USS Antietam (CG 54) launches a Harpoon surface-to-surface missile as part of a joint force sinking exercise (SINKEX) targeting the decommissioned frigate USS Curts (FFG 38), Sept. 19. (U.S. Navy/MC3 James Hong)

PACIFIC OCEAN - U.S. joint armed forces conducted a multi-platform live-fire missile exercise, Sept. 19, involving surface, air, and subsurface launched ordnance to sink the decommissioned frigate USS Curts (FFG 38) as part of exercise Valiant Shield 2020.

The sinking exercise (SINKEX) combined an orchestrated sequence of live ordnance targeting the ex-USS Curts, including air-launched ordnance from fixed and rotary wing squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, embarked aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), surface launched missiles from cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and Shiloh (CG 67), a subsurface launched missile from Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721), as well as various supporting Navy and U.S. Air Force aircraft.

“This exercise demonstrates our ability to bring overwhelming firepower from the sea whether that comes from under the surface, on the surface, or from the air,” said Capt. Steven DeMoss, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. “We have this capability in every theater across the globe and can employ these weapons at the place and time of our choosing.”

Air Force assets included tanker support from KC-135s and KC-10s of the 909th Air Refueling Squadron and 9th ARS, respectively.

“The SINKEX provided unique, high end, tactical training for our air wing aviators,” said Capt. Michael Rovenolt, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5. “The experience gained by our crews can only be achieved with live fire events like this one and cannot be replicated through simulated engagements. Our ordnance and maintenance teams got the satisfaction of seeing their labors produce actual results on a maritime target...very rewarding for them.”

Valiant Shield is a U.S. only, biennial field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on integration of joint training in a blue-water environment among U.S. forces. 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.

“The entire evolution showcases CVW-5’s ability to fully integrate with our joint teammates to provide ready, dynamic maritime superiority anywhere within the Pacific AOR,” Rovenolt said. “Utilizing a decommissioned ship for targeting during missile exercises allows participants to take advantage of maximum-level realism in warfighting engagements. It also affords warfare commanders the opportunity to employ engagements from a myriad of available platforms that bring U.S. joint strike capabilities to bear.”

This is the eighth exercise in the Valiant Shield series that began in 2006. Participants include USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, USS Chicago (SSN 721), USS America (LHA 6), USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Comstock (LSD 45) and multiple surface ships -- approximately 100 aircraft and an estimated 11,000 personnel from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps. Valiant Shield focuses on integration of training in a blue-water environment to enable real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking, and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas.

USS Antietam (CG 54) fires its forward MK 45 5-inch gun during the SINKEX. (U.S. Navy/U.S. Navy/MC3 James Hong)

A 5-inch high explosive round fired from USS Antietam (CG 54) strikes the decommissioned frigate USS Curts (FFG 38). (U.S. Navy/U.S. Navy/MC3 James Hong)

The silhouette of the decommissioned frigate USS Curts (FFG 38) is visible against an illumination round fire from USS Antietam (CG 54). (U.S. Navy/U.S. Navy/MC3 James Hong)

Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jhon Jimenez checks ordnance on an F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 as it prepares to launch from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Sept. 19. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Erica Bechard)