United States Navy Wasp-class Amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) successfully engaged a target drone with a NATO Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missile during a fleet firing exercise in Philippine Sea off the coast of the United States territory of Guam as part of the exercise, Valiant Shield 2016 (VS16), September 18.
The Philippine Sea is a marginal sea east and northeast of the Philippines occupying an estimated surface area of 5 million km² of the western part of the North Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by the Philippine archipelago (Luzon, Catanduanes, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao) on the southwest; Halmahera, Morotai, Palau, Yap, and Ulithi (of the Carolines) on the southeast; the Marianas, including Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, on the east; the Bonin and Iwo Jima on the northeast; the Japanese islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyūshū on the north; the Ryukyu Islands on the northwest; and Taiwan in the west.
“It’s been five years since the last time we fired our NATO system and it operated perfectly,” said Bonhomme Richard’s combat systems maintenance manager Senior Chief Fire Controlman Joshua Patat. “I’ve seen four NATO launches in my career, and I have to say this was the best and smoothest one I’ve ever seen. The drone ran its course as we planned, the system tracked it the whole way, and NATO killed it just as the system was designed to do.”
US Navy gathered its forces from the Pacific Command (USPACOM) to participate in exercise VS16 from September 12 to 23 on Guam and around the Marianas Island Range Complex.
According to USPACOM, Valiant Shield is a biennial field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on integration of joint training in a blue-water environment exclusively for US force.
“This training enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas,” USPACOM said. “The range of capabilities include maritime security operations, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, amphibious operations, and other elements of complex warfighting.”
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