Anti-ship Power of US F-18, P-8, MH-60R Demonstrated at RIMPAC-22

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Four ways to kill a ship: How US Marines are focused on controlling the seas
Megan EcksteinAug 3, 11:10 AM
A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet is loaded with ordnance for a sinking exercise as part of Rim of the Pacific 2022. RIMPAC military forces fired upon and sank the decommissioned Navy ship Denver. (Sgt. Melanye Martinez/U.S. Marine Corps)
Source: Defense News

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII —
RIMPAC mirrors what the Marine Corps is trying to accomplish in the Pacific region to counter China’s growing influence and military activities.

The service, through its new stand-in forces and its expeditionary advanced base operations concepts, envisions small groups of Marines scattered throughout regional islands and shorelines, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and anywhere else partner nations allow. Those small units will carry everything they need to move from one place to another while conducting surveillance missions, establishing refueling spots for joint forces and launching missiles.

Key to the concept is mobility, interoperability and focusing on maritime missions — all demonstrated during RIMPAC 2022, which runs June 29-Aug. 4.

The Marine Corps and U.S. Army units specializing in the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System were ashore and ready to shoot at maritime targets, Clearfield said in the interview. The new 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment based in Hawaii and the California-based 7th Marine Regiment set up expeditionary advanced bases ashore to provide sensing services for the coalition force and prosecute targets if the opportunity arose.

For 7th Marines, it did.

F/A-18 Hornet jets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, operating with 7th Marines as part of the temporary Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7, shot modified Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs against the decommissioned amphibious ship Denver during a sinking exercise.

Marine Corps Forces Pacific spokesman Maj. Nick Mannweiler told Defense News this was the first employment of this JDAM weapon by Marine aircraft, and its first use against a ship. The Air Force previously tested the modified JDAM against a full-scale vessel target, but not an actual warship.


An F/A-18 Hornet assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 fired at the decommissioned U.S. Navy vessel Denver during a sinking exercise at Rim of the Pacific 2022. (Lance Cpl. Haley Fourmet Gustavsen/U.S. Marine Corps)

Additionally, the squadron, which also fired high-speed anti-radiation missiles and a Harpoon anti-ship missile, practiced the sensing and targeting portion of the kill chain alongside Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drones. (Very relevant to Indian Navy)

According to a news release on the sinking exercise, dubbed SINKEX, this demonstrated “the U.S. Marine Corps’ ability to integrate into a joint and combined command and control network anywhere.”

RIMPAC 2022 featured the JDAM and the Harpoon to sink the ex-Denver.

RIMPAC planners had intended for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 to fire a Joint Air-to-Ground Missile, which would have been the first time Marines fired this weapon during a training event. (Mannweiler noted the service first tested the JAGM against maritime targets with AH-1Z helos in December 2021.)

Overall, Indian Navy is aligning well in doctrine and weapons with Australian, Japanese and US navies securing excellent interoperability. Missing asset is F-18/ F-35 both essential to dominate Indo-Pacific against Chinese. My sources say that F-18 will be selected and F-35 will be offered soon. ("Soon" in Congress can be a long time).
 

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