HMCS Calgary completes live fire air defence exercise

Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile
HMCS Calgary fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile as part of a recent live fire air defence exercise.

By Sub-Lieutenant M.X. Déry

“At the time, sitting in the chair, pulling the trigger and hearing the whoosh of the missiles was surreal,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Sara Kucher, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Calgary’s Above Water Warfare Officer. “I will remember this for a very long time.”

Calgary recently fired three Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSMs) as part of a live fire air defence exercise, complete with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as targets. The exercise was the culmination of months of preparation and takes Calgary and its crew one step closer to high readiness in preparation for their upcoming deployment on Operation PROJECTION in the Asia-Pacific region.

While these types of exercises are not rare, Lt(N) Kucher said it is definitely not something that every Above Water Warfare Officer gets to do during their time in that position. Getting the warship ready for the exercise took a substantial amount of work and preparation.

“Preparations started months ago,” she said. “Both the Operations and the Combat Systems Engineering Departments worked steadily to bring Calgary from re-fit to successful completion of this exercise.”

One of the major components in this type of training is communication, as members of the ship’s operations team need to quickly identify threats, determine a course of action, and attack that threat in a timely fashion.

“We came together conducting training serials over the course of the last several months and improved our communication within the team. This allowed us to execute the exercise smoothly,” said Lt(N) Kucher.

The exercise took place in the West Coast Firing Area off central Vancouver Island, where the Royal Canadian Navy conducts at-sea force generation. To ensure range safety, Calgary advised ships in the area prior to the shoot via radio and used its many sensors to ensure no people or marine animals were within the range.

“The day of the missile firing we had assistance from a CP-140 aircraft to clear the range and make sure that our firing arcs were clear of other vessels, aircraft and marine life,” said Lt(N) Kucher.

Launchers for the UAVs were placed on Calgary’s flight deck in order to catapult their targets into the air. All eight targets were shot down, some by the 57mm main gun and others by the three ESSMs.

“To have all that work and team effort end in the destruction of the targets was very exciting,” said Lt(N) Kucher. “We were all smiling at the end of it.”

This is not the finale of Calgary’s training prior to deploying. At the end of July it will depart to complete intermediate multi-ship readiness training with Sea Training Pacific while en route to Australia where it will begin its five-month deployment on Op PROJECTION.

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