Saudi, U.S. Forces Conduct Joint Aviation Integration Exercise in Arabian Gulf

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | December 21, 2020

The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), Royal Saudi Naval Force (RSNF), U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and U.S. Air Forces Central (AFCENT) conducted a robust combined joint air operations in support of maritime surface warfare (AOMSW) exercise in the Arabian Gulf Dec. 17-18.

This exercise marks the fifth joint and combined integration operation this year. Previous exercises incorporated U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunships in March, U.S. Army attack helicopters in April, aircraft from the United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command in August and U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles in September.

“As we incorporate more and more of our joint counterparts and coalition partners, the capabilities practiced in these exercises are growing exponentially,” said Capt. Michael Brasseur, deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 50 and Task Force (TF) 55, who led the exercise. “We will continue to enhance the abilities of our combined, joint force to decisively defend against maritime security threats.”

The AOMSW exercise included Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) directing a wide variety of platforms to conduct simulated fires against surface threats attempting to attack coalition forces.

Participating platforms included RSAF F-15, U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16C Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters; U.S. Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk and MH-60S Night Hawk helicopters, an RSNF corvette, U.S. Navy patrol coastal ships, the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston Churchill (DDG 81) and U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats.

JTACs also practiced directing some participating ships and aircraft in a live fire exercise against simulated targets.

“The integrated exercise honed our expeditionary skillset, and elevated our overall readiness as a unit,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Kennedy, 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. “To train like we fight, with joint and regional partners, demonstrated the incredibly capable and formidable team we have here in the Arabian Gulf.”

A P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft provided command and control and reconnaissance support throughout the exercise.

Participating commands included the RSNF Eastern Fleet, AFCENT’s Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing, 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and NAVCENT Task Forces 55 and 57.