US Navy and Saudi naval forces conduct joint Air Operations in support of Maritime Surface Warfare exercise


According to information published by the U.S Navy on 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 robust combined joint Air Operations in support of Maritime Surface Warfare (AOMSW) exercise in the Arabian Gulf on December 17-18, 2020. The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) also participated in the bilateral joint and combined AOMSW.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), right, and the Navy patrol coastal ship USS Firebolt (PC 10) transit the Arabian Gulf with Royal Saudi Air Force F-15SA fighter jets. (Picture source U.S. Navy)


The USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer of the United States Navy. This ship is the 31st destroyer of her class. Winston S. Churchill was the 18th ship of this class to be built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and construction began on 7 May 1998. She was launched and christened on 17 April 1999. On 10 March 2001, she was commissioned during a ceremony at Town Point Park in Norfolk, Virginia.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyer can operate independently or as part of Carrier Strike Groups, Surface Action Groups, and Expeditionary Strike Groups. She is multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW).

The U.S. Navy routinely integrates surface and aviation units to train and enhance coalition forces. Previous exercises incorporated the U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunships, U.S. Army attack helicopters and aircraft from the United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command.

The AOMSW (Air Operations Maritime Surface Warfare) 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.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.


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