April 21, 2020 – U.S. Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters assigned to U.S. Army Central Command’s (USARCENT) Task Force Saber conducted a live fire exercise with ships assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT) in the North Arabian Gulf April 16-19.
The exercise, which is designed to enhance the capabilities of U.S. forces to respond to surface threats, was a continuation of joint operations between USNAVCENT surface ships and USARCENT aircraft.
The joint operations have been ongoing throughout March and April.
“This is yet another successful example of our surface forces being able to leverage cross-domain capabilities in order to enhance lethality against maritime threats,” said Capt. Peter Mirisola, Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 50/Commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 55. “By using the interoperability they’ve developed with Army and Air Force platforms, our forward deployed naval forces can exercise sea control and project power regardless of what other Navy assets are present in theater.”
The ships involved in the event included Navy Expeditionary Landing Base ship USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3), coastal patrol ships USS Sirocco (PC 6), USS Whirlwind (PC 11), USS Firebolt (PC 10 ), USS Tempest (PC 2), Coast Guard patrol boats USCGC Adak (WPB 1333), USCGC Maui (WPB 1304), USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332), and guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60).
Lewis B. Puller acted as a staging platform, embarking Task Force Saber personnel and equipment, and launching the Apaches, while the smaller surface ships identified simulated targets for the attack helicopters to engage.
On the ships involved without organic aircraft control capabilities, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) was embarked to communicate directly with the aircraft and provide targeting information.
“Multi-domain operations are key to deterring regional aggression,” said MG Steven Ferrari, Commander of Task Force Spartan. “The marriage of our AH-64s and USS Lewis B. Puller is a great example of how the joint force projects combat power throughout the Middle East.”
This live fire exercise follows similar integration operations between USNAVCENT ships and Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) AC-130W Stinger II gunships in March.