JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — Participation in SINKEX provided an opportunity for units from Australia, Canada, Malaysia and the United States to test weapons and systems in a simulated environment , working against opposing forces and ultimately resulting in the explosion of a decommissioned warship and marked a significant development in maritime combat capability.
The presence of the MQ-9As at the largest international maritime exercise in the world provides an opportunity for joint and joint collaboration.
“They need us and we need them,” said U.S. Air National Guard Capt. Phillip West, RIMPAC MQ-9 Maritime Force Integration Manager. “That’s where RIMPAC comes in.”
He said the Air Force and Navy speak different languages, each using their own distinct lingo. Working together on exercises like RIMPAC and SINKEX promotes smooth communication between branches. This ensures better combat readiness, increased strategic impact and enhanced deterrence efforts by providing tactical skills to MQ-9A crews.
“Participating in RIMPAC helps us evolve,” said Colonel Steven Beattie, commander of the 49th Operations Group. “We are developing maritime and Pacific (area of responsibility) expertise for our aircrew, maintenance and support personnel.”
With the MQ-9 flying over the ocean as opposed to routine training in remote land locations, the main objective of SINKEX was the collection of practical data on operation in a maritime environment as opposed to a desert environment.
“The data we have in a simulator feeds into real-world engagements like SINKEX,” West said. “With what’s called the new smart sensor, they’re trying to create a database of what ships look like. They need us to actually do it so they can create a database and then they can do it. integrate into a simulator so that we can practice it and have more effective training.
SINKEX is one of many unique training opportunities RIMPAC provides to the U.S. military, its allies, and partner nations. Through it, we can foster and maintain cooperative relationships that are essential to ensuring safe sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans.
This year is historic not only because of MQ-9A but because it marks the return to a large-scale exercise not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 iteration of RIMPAC has been scaled down to be conducted with less face-to-face contact. The return to a full-scale exercise demonstrates that capable and adaptable partners are working together to increase the interoperability, resilience and agility required for joint and combined force.
Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to August 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The largest international maritime exercise in the world, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and maintaining cooperative relationships among participants essential to keeping sea lanes safe and the world’s oceans safe. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series which began in 1971.