US Navy concludes Valiant Shield 2022, readies for RIMPAC

On 17 June, the US Navy concluded the ninth edition of Valiant Shield, a high-end unilateral field training exercise following 12 days of combat drills to hone skillsets necessary to win in the sea, air, land, and cyberspace domains.

The exercise took place in the Joint Region Marianas area of operations including Palau, Naval Base Guam, Andersen Air Force Base, as well as the off-shore Mariana Island Range Complex and Northern Mariana Islands.

Multiple training scenarios and demonstrations built up to the pinnacle event, which was a sinking exercise (SINKEX), centring on the decommissioned frigate ex-USS Vandegrift, that tested the effectiveness of modern weaponry on ship design and aircraft.

SINKEX participants included Carrier Air Wing 5 embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the guided missile destroyer USS Benfold which launched a surface-to-surface missile, the attack submarine USS Key West, as well as B-1B bombers from the US Air Force’s 28th Bomb Wing, as well as F-18 and F-35B combat aircraft from the US Marine Corps’ Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons. The navy’s Seventh Fleet, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli, co-ordinated the live-fire process.

The III Marine Expeditionary Force deployed its M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to perform a HIMARS Rapid Infiltration (HI-RAIN) via the Air Force National Guard’s C-130 Hercules airlifter on Palau, while the US Army demonstrated its ability to engage a simulated cruise missile with targeting data provided by a US Air Force F-35A fighter aircraft.

The latter demonstration, which was conducted on Palau for the first time, involved assets from the US Army Pacific’s 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, which launched two PAC-2 Patriot interceptors to intercept a drone target that emulated the signature and flight characteristics of a hostile cruise missile.

Meanwhile, the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) also demonstrated several capabilities such as coastal patrol, construction, expeditionary diving, explosive ordnance disposal, maritime and port security, and logistics support. A particular highlight of NECC’s involvement was its Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures (ACES), which demonstrated its concrete 3D printing capability specifically designed for expeditionary environments.

“This exercise was the perfect opportunity to conduct integrated deterrence, which was the cornerstone of our approach,” said Rear Admiral Robb Chadwick, Valiant Shield 22 Joint Exercise Control Group Director. “We combined our efforts across all warfighting domains and the spectrum of conflict to ensure that the United States, alongside our allies and partners, could dissuade or defeat aggression in any form or domain.”

Although Valiant Shield 2022 has only just concluded, the US Navy is set to embark on another major large-scale exercise. It will lead the multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California region from 29 June to 4 August. RIMPAC 2022 will involve around 25,000 personnel drawn from across 26 countries. The exercise will also feature 38 surface ships, four submarines, over 170 aircraft and nine national land forces.

by Jr Ng