Combat aircraft and surface warships assigned to US Naval Forces Central Command and US Air Forces Central (AFCENT) have conducted a joint Air Operation in Maritime Surface Warfare (AOMSW) exercise in the Gulf of Oman.

The exercise, held on 23-24 September, featured live surface combat air patrol and joint fires against surface threats. The event, the sixth of this year, brought together the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) and the US Air Force’s 75th Fighter Squadron’s A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

Previous exercises included the integration of US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft alongside naval assets in the Gulf of Oman in August and an A-10’s firing of 30mm practice rounds on a surface target in July. 

In April, a US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft, US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft, and US Coast Guard cutters collaborated with US Marine Corps joint terminal attack controllers in the Arabian Gulf.

Furthermore, the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and an HH-60W Jolly Green II helicopter conducted joint operations in the Gulf of Aden in April.

The presence of USS Stethem in the US 5th Fleet area of operations is part of the US’ commitment to maintaining maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.

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Covering nearly 2.5m square miles, this area encompasses vital waterways, including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and key choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal, and Bab al-Mandeb.

Unease has grown in the Gulf region, with brief confrontations, often at sea, conducted in the Gulf of Oman, according to GlobalData’s “US Defense Market 2022-2027” report.

timeline of activity has seen tensions rise between the US and Iran in the Gulf of Oman. From attempted seizures to increased patrols, activity has been growing in the area, with the most recent incident involving US naval forces successfully preventing two attempted seizures of commercial tankers by the Iranian Navy.