Saturday, August 26, 2017

Exercise Pacific Griffin XPG enters live-fire phase off Guam

Missile Away! The United States Navy Littoral Combat Ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) fires a Harpoon Block 1C missile at a target lurking over the horizon at extreme range. Photo: US Navy

[Edit: The US Navy has revised the caption above with the one below, which omits mention of XPG. However, the Facebook album for USS Coronado chronicles the HarpoonEx with the original syntax.]

War games conducted by naval forces from the United States and Singapore, codenamed Exercise Pacific Griffin (XPG), entered the live-fire phase off Guam this week.

The war games, described by the US Navy as "the most complex and comprehensive exercise between the U.S. and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) to date", represents "the enhanced capabilities of both navies to operate and work together to ensure maritime security and stability".

One highlight of the combined live-fire exercise was a HarpoonEx which involved the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Coronado, which is forward deployed at the Republic of Singapore Navy's RSS Singapura (Changi Naval Base).

The missile shot that took place on Tuesday 22 August saw Coronado fire a Harpoon RGM-84 Block 1C anti-ship missile at a surface target lurking over-the-horizon.

The LCS used her embarked air detachment to provide mid-course correction during the HarpoonEx. Air assets deployed were a MQ-8B Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) paired with an MH-60S Seahawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 (HCS-23).

Eyes in the sky: The air detachment embarked aboard USS Coronado furnished mid-course guidance during the HarpoonEx. Picture here is a MQ-8B Fire Scout drone, which worked with a MH-60S Seahawk from HCS-23 to expand the Coronado's ability to reach out and touch faraway contacts. Photo: US Navy

“LCS will play an important role in protecting shipping and vital U.S. interests in the maritime crossroads,” Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, Commander of Task Force 73, said in a US Navy news release cited by USNI News.

“Its ability to pair unmanned vehicles like Fire Scout with Harpoon missiles to strike from the littoral shadows matters – there are over 50,000 islands in the arc from the Philippines to India; those shallow crossroads are vital world interests. Harpoon and Fire Scout showcase one of the growing tool combinations in our modular LCS capability set and this complex shot demonstrates why LCS has Combat as its middle name.”

US Navy Commander Douglas Meagher, Coronado’s Commanding Officer, said in the same news release cited by USNI News:“Our crew and air detachment really came together as a team to accomplish this live-fire event. Our sailors worked hard to prepare for this exercise and I’m extremely proud of the way they performed.”

Captain Lex Walker, Commodore of US Navy's Destroyer Squadron 7, said: “USS Coronado’s success in a real-world deployment of the harpoon missile system is a result of how we are changing the way we operate and think about LCS.”

“By focusing on how a deployed LCS fits in the larger maritime domain with regional partners, we are ensuring a secure and cooperative regional environment while increasing the ship’s capabilities.”

USS Coronado arrived in Singapore in October 2016. The warship is the first trimaran Independence-class LCS and the third US Navy LCS stationed in Singapore after USS Fort Freedom and USS Fort Worth.

Senang Diri understands that Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) stealth frigates, Stalwart and Supreme, led by the command ship/tank landing ship, Endurance, are now off Guam for XPG. Embarked with the RSN ships is a single S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter. This is believed to be the RSN's biggest deployment for a naval exercise held this far from Singapore.

See also:
RSS warships depart for Exercise Pacific Griffin. Click here

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