DOT&E Wants More Realistic Naval Carrier and Destroyer MIssile Defense Testing

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February 9, 2016 | Originally published by Date Line: February 9 on

You”d expect the nation”s top weapons tester to be a stickler about testing. But there”s “rigorous testing” and then there”s “let”s shoot cruise missiles at you and see what happens.”

It”s not that the Navy is wimpy about testing. The service conducts “full-ship shock trials” like the USS Roosevelt test pictured above, where it sets off a huge explosion next to a ship with a test crew aboard,

The Pentagon”s famously tough Director of Operational Test and Evaluation wants to Navy to speed up such shock testing on its new aircraft carrier, the cutting-edge and high-cost USS Gerald Ford. (More on that below). But a shock trial tests the ship”s structural strength, not its ability to shoot down incoming anti-ship missiles moving at hundreds or even thousands of miles per hour.

Even DOT&E doesn”t want the Navy to shoot live missiles directly at ships with live people on them: They want the Navy to build a new “unmanned test ship” and fire the missiles at that.