22 Atlantic Thunder participants, assigned to USN Europe, US Air Force Europe, the British Royal Navy and the RAF, have sunk the previously decommissioned guided-missile frigate USS Boone, during SINKEX’s joint efficiency development live fire. In tactics, targeting and live shooting at a surface target in the sea.
Admiral Oliver “Ole” Lewis of the US Naval Forces Europe and Africa (NAVEUR- NAVAF) Director of Naval Operations said. “Importantly, gaining real-world proficiency in the tactics, techniques and procedures we have developed and tested alongside our British allies not only validates our weapons systems but ultimately contributes to NATO readiness.”
The exercise was not only a unique and valuable opportunity to hone and prove the capabilities of partners, but also was a training for multiple “firsts”.
The former Boone was hit by Martlet air-to-ground missiles from Wildcat helicopters assigned to the Type 23 HMS Westminster frigate. The helicopters provided the inaugural laser targeting of fixed-wing RAF Hurricanes using Paveway IV precision-guided munitions.
A US Navy Poseidon assigned to the Patrol Squadron fired 46 long-range anti-ship missiles. US Air Force F-15E Eagles, assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron, shot down combined direct attack munitions.
Finally at sea, the guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) struck the ex-Bonn with a Standard 6 (SM-6) missile, the first SM-6 anti-ship engagement of the US European Command. area of responsibility, while HMS Westminster launched the first direct RGM-84D Harpoon missile from the UK since 2004.
Also aboard Arleigh Burke, Marines assigned to the Marine Expeditionary Unit 22 provided vital images and battle damage assessment by deploying a V-BAT 128 Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV), marking the first launch of the V-BAT 128 from Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.
The commander said: “Ex Atlantic Thunder has demonstrated that UK and US naval and air forces can integrate to deliver a comprehensive killing chain against a long-range naval target.” Ed Moss Ward, Commander of HMS Westminster. “The integration of advanced weapons, sensors and communications with our NATO allies is key to the Alliance’s collective warfare capability demonstrated by the sinking exercises. The launches have supported the development of the Royal Navy’s targeting and weapon capabilities, and provided the opportunity to conduct realistic training to verify tactics and operating procedures.”
Former US Navy ships used in SINKEXs, referred to as hulks, are prepared in strict compliance with regulations defined and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency under a general permit held by the Navy in accordance with the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.
Before being transferred to participate in the sinking exercise, each vessel undergoes a rigorous cleaning process for environmental safety. In line with UK Ministry of Defense environmental policy, robust monitoring above and below sea level was conducted with trained personnel using specialized equipment to reduce the overall risk of unintended impact on the marine environment and marine mammals during SINKEX.
The Ex-Boone is a decommissioned guided missile frigate, which entered United States Naval service on May 15, 1982. It was decommissioned on February 23, 2012. The 20th class ship was Oliver Hazard Perry, the first ship to be named Vice Admiral Joel Thompson Boone, Recipient of the Medal of Honor and the most honored medical officer during the First World War.
For more than 80 years, the US Naval Forces Euro-American Naval Forces in Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, drawing on a foundation of shared values to maintain security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates the US Navy in the US European Command (USEUCOM) and US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. The US Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and uses the Navy through a full range of combined and naval operations.
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