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After patiently sitting in port for months, the specially outfitted U.S. container vessel MV Cape Ray only took weeks to decimate Syria’s chemical weapon precursors.

The 648-long-ship in January set sail from Portsmouth, Virginia, to the Mediterranean Sea, but was forced to spend months in Rota, Spain, waiting for Syria to turn over its stockpile of deadly chemicals.

The vessel in early July began dismantling some 600 tons of a nerve gas precursor and 20 tons of a mustard agent using a process called hydrolysis, which uses water and other reactants to neutralize and break down the chemicals. The work, which took place in international waters in the Med, wrapped up this week.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel even called Navy Captain Rich Dromerhauser aboard the ship to congratulate the him and the crew on completing the difficult and dangerous task, which only took 41 days — much quicker than expected. [Continue reading…]

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140807-N-CS564-078The commander on board the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier overseeing the ongoing airstrikes in Iraq said Navy F/A-18s have flown at least 30 bombing missions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, targets.

Thus far, Navy planes have destroyed ISIL mobile artillery positions, convoys and other strategic targets including vehicles and equipment captured by ISIL, said Navy Rear Adm. DeWolfe Miller, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Two told reporters by phone from the Arabian Gulf.

The Navy F/A-18s are configured with a host of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons such as the GBU-54 500-pound laser-guided bombs dropped in Iraq.  Laser-guided bombs can be guided by a laser-designation from the air or nearby ground forces. The GBU-54s dropped in Iraq are known as Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions or LJDAMS, which rely on GPS guidance to pinpoint their targets.

The GBU 54 is a 581-pound glide bomb with a range of up to 15 nautical miles, service officials said. The weapon uses semi-active laser guidance as well as GPS and inertial navigation systems. [Continue reading…]

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140619-N-ZZ999-167The Navy and Raytheon recently test-fired a Standard Missile-6 against a low-flying subsonic cruise missile target over land Aug. 14, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

“The test was the Navy’s attempt to demonstrate an intercept of a subsonic, low-altitude target over land, and it did just that,” said CMDR. Sidney Hodgson, deputy program manager for standard missiles.

The test-firing was the second in a series of ten planned tests for the SM-6 during what’s called the Follow-On Test and Evaluation, or FOT&E phase, which is slated to finish in 2016, Raytheon and Navy officials said.

In development for seven years, the SM-6 achieved initial operating capability in 2013. The weapon is designed to provide defensive intercept capability and offensive fire power against anti-ship cruise missiles, fixed and rotary wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The weapon is also slated to perform terminal phase ballistic missile defense. [Continue reading…]

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140817-N-SB299-087The Navy launched and landed a carrier-based drone in rapid succession with an F/A-18 fighter jet as part of a series of joint manned and unmanned flight tests aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt Aug. 17 off the coast of Norfolk, Va., service officials said.

The Navy’s carrier-based drone demonstrator, the X-47B, flew from a carrier in May and November of last year and is now working on streamlining carrier deck operations and maneuvers with manned aircraft.

“Today we showed that the X-47B could take off, land and fly in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft while maintaining normal flight deck operations,” Capt. Beau Duarte, program manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation office, said in a written statement. “This is key for the future Carrier Air Wing.”

After an eight minute flight, the X-47B executed an arrested landing, folded its wings and taxied out of the landing area before moving out of the way for an F/A-18 to land, Navy officials said. [Continue reading…]

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TabletThe Navy has begun a new pilot program to put tablets on board a destroyer in order to reduce paperwork and more efficiently streamline maintenance procedures, service officials said.

Roughly 20 wireless tablets will soon arrive on board the USS Laboon, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer currently pier side in Norfolk, Va., Rear Adm. Herman Shelanski, director, assessment division, told Military​.com in an interview.

The idea is to automate a wide range of what Shelanski called “maintenance and material management” functions by using wireless digital technology to replace time-consuming paperwork.

“Sailors have said ‘we like the warfighting first but we can’t seem to get there. Our daily activities are filled with all this administrative stuff. There’s all this training we got to do, recording of the training and paperwork we need to do,’” Shelanski explained. “We’ve fallen behind in our ability to modernize and digitize certain processes.” [Continue reading…]

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