The USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) wrapped up its Combat System Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT) last month, validating the Aegis Weapon System through a series of surface and anti- air warfare exercises, according to Lockheed Martin [LMT].

CSSQT evaluated the Bunker Hill’s Aegis Combat System for combat readiness through comprehensive surface and anti-air warfare exercises, including manned raids and electronic attack scenarios, as well as thorough testing of the system’s tactical data link and air defense capabilities. The air defense testing was the culmination of the CSSQT, when the Aegis Weapon Systems successfully engaged multiple missile targets, according to Lockheed Martin.

The upgrades on Bunker Hill are part of the Navy’s effort to begin introducing open architecture (OA) systems under the advanced capability build (ACB) 08. The initial effort separates the hardware from the software, enabling upgrades to operating systems without having to pull out equipment.

“ACB 08 has been a significant improvement to our combat systems. The previous system was essentially the same system when I was the XO of Bunker Hill,” Capt. Patrick Piercey, commanding officer USS Bunker Hill, told Defense Daily in a recent interview.

“ACB 08 really does make us relevant, credible and agile in dealing with an evolving threat. Overall, I have been very happy with ACB 08, and it exceeded my expectations,” he said.

The implementation of the ACB 08 Combat System has gone through several revisions onboard the ship since its first load on the ship last fall, a Navy source familiar with the modification effort told Defense Daily.

“All revisions have continued to improve what was initially a very stable and capable ACB 08. Extensive testing over the last year has demonstrated the exponential increase in capability that the combat system now has culminating with four highly successfully MISSILEX events during CSSQT,” the source said.

To date, the Navy has done extensive work on modifying Bunker Hill, the source said. The ship entered BAE Systems shipyard in February 2008 and completed the cruiser modifications one year later, the source added.

The combat system upgrades include:

* Mission Critical Enclosure (MCE)/Blade replacement in the computer room to support OA;

* ACB 08 Computer Program Load–Q70 Consoles;

* Cooperative Engagement Capability;

* AN/SPQ-9B multimode X-band pulse Doppler radar that detects all known and projected sea skimming missiles;

* Integrated Video Data Distribution System installed to integrate all sensor video into one system distributed throughout the ship;

* 5 inch 62 caliber gun, Mk 34 Gun Weapon System (GWS), , Electro Optical Sensor System install;

* Vertical Launch System improvements to support Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile capability;

* Mk 38 25mm GWS–a 25mm automatic gun system;

* Close-in weapon system (CIWS)-1B;

* FURUNO Radar;

* Battle Force Tactical Trainer;

* Gigabit Ethernet Local Area Network (GIG-E LAN) upgrade;

* Strengthening Mods to support MH-60R helicopters;

* Significant weight reduction in bulwark removal, catwalk removal, removal of SPS-49 (very long range air surveillance radar); and

* Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) upgrade.

“Upgrades to the Combat Systems in the Combat Information Center have not only increased the room sailors have to physically work, but significantly increased the information that flows to the watch standers that in turn expands the battle space for the ship,” the source said.

The Bunker Hill’s crew underwent thousands of hours of training off and on ship in all of the new systems, the source said.

“The manpower and training plan was so extensive that Lockheed Martin provided a dedicated person to coordinate all the training for the crew,” he added. “Additionally, during the testing phase on the ship the crew received countless hours of on the job training by the myriad of tech reps.”

Maintenance changes are seen in all the systems installed onboard, the source noted.

“One significant upgrade to the Operational Readiness Test System improved the crew’s ability to monitor real time the Aegis Weapon System status, quickly assess a problem and provide troubleshooting guidance,” the source said.

With CSSQT completed, the work on Bunker Hill is essentially complete, the source added.

“No production work remains. What remains left open exists at the higher level…basically certifying the program for operational use,” the source said. “Baseline and Platform Certification, ship certifications, and review by the Navy Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), remain prior to returning Bunker Hill back to the fleet.”