The military forces of the UK and US have participated in Atlantic Thunder 2022, a live-firing multi-domain sinking exercise (SINKEX).
Conducted aboard the US Navy’s decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Boone, the exercise involved live-testing weapons against a realistic target at sea.
It also assessed both forces’ power and precision.
During the exercise, the US Navy’s P-8 Poseidon maritime aircraft fired 660kg high-explosive while the UK Royal Navy’s (RN) Type 23 ship HMS Westminster launched two Harpoon anti-ship missiles against the ex-USS Boone.
Following this, the RN’s Wildcat helicopter fired Martlet air-to-surface missiles at Boone’s hull.
This was the first time Martlet had been fired at a realistic target, as the missile had previously only been used on purpose-built targets.
Concurrently to this, Wildcat’s crew used an onboard laser-targeting pod to guide the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Typhoons to fire Paveway IV precision-guided munitions.
The exercise was the first time Wildcat had been used to guide Paveway IV, as well as the first instance of a Typhoon dropping live ordnance to hit a naval target.
The US Air Force’s F-15E Eagles also guided air-to-ground Joint Direct Attack Munitions against Boone.
As part of this exercise, US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) also launched a Standard Missile (SM)-6 to intercept its first anti-ship target in the US European Command’s area of responsibility.
In addition, US Marines aboard DDG 51 deployed a V-BAT 128 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) to provide battle damage assessment.
The launch was V-BAT 128’s first from an Arleigh Burke-class vessel.
HMS Westminster commanding officer commander Ed Moss-Ward said: “Atlantic Thunder has demonstrated that UK and US naval and air forces can work together to deliver an end-to-end kill chain against maritime targets at long-range.”