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UAE and US Forces conduct aviation live fire exercise in Arabian Gulf


The United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command (JAC), U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) and U.S. Special Operations Central Command (SOCCENT) conducted an air operations in support of maritime surface warfare (AOMSW) exercise in the Arabian Gulf, Aug. 9-12.

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UAE and US Forces conduct aviation live fire exercise in Arabian Gulf 925 002 Two UH-60M Black Hawk multi-mission helicopters, attached to United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command, land on expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B Puller (ESB 3) during an air operations in support of maritime surface warfare exercise in the Arabian Gulf Aug. 11, 2020. (Picture source: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Clegg)


The exercise included Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) directing live fires at simulated targets from an AC-130W gunship attached to SOCCENT and rotary and fixed wing aircraft attached to the JAC. It gave Emirati and U.S. pilots a chance to hone strike capabilities together against surface targets such as maritime infrastructure and fast attack craft.

The JTACs, assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC), AFCENT and SOCCENT, were stationed aboard a variety of aviation and surface assets, including USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), Cyclone-class patrol coastal ships (PC) attached to NAVCENT Task Force (TF) 55, and MK VI patrol boats assigned to NAVCENT TF 56. Puller also served as an afloat staging platform for both UAE and U.S. aircraft.


UAE and US Forces conduct aviation live fire exercise in Arabian Gulf 925 001 An inflatable target takes fire from an AC-130W Stinger II gunship, attached to Special Operations Command Central, during an air operations in support of maritime surface warfare exercise with United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command forces in the Arabian Gulf Aug. 11, 2020. (Picture source: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Clegg)


Prior to the exercise, UAE pilots prepared by successfully completing deck landing qualifications aboard the Puller.

This also follows joint integration exercises between U.S. Navy, Army, and Air Force assets in March, April and May, featuring shipboard JTACs directing live fires from AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and AC-130W Stinger II gunships.

Participating U.S. forces included NAVCENT TFs 55, 56 and 57, the USS Lewis B. Puller, SPMAGTF-CR-CC, SOCCENT, and the AFCENT AWC located at Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE.

Integration operations between UAE and U.S. maritime forces are regularly held to maintain interoperability and the capability to counter threats posed in the maritime domain, ensuring freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce throughout the region’s heavily trafficked waterways.