The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force teamed up with the US Navy against a former US Navy warship in the North Atlantic.
HMS Westminster, a Wildcat helicopter and three fast RAF Typhoon jets unleashed fire on the decommissioned frigate USS Boone using a range of high-powered weapons.
The Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster fired two Harpoon anti-ship missiles as an American P-8 Poseidon patrol plane simultaneously launched its ex-USS Boone.
The frigate’s Wildcat helicopter soon followed, sending Martlet air-to-surface missiles into the Boone’s hull.
It was the first shot of the new Fleet Air Arm anti-ship weapon against a realistic target at sea; until now, Martlet had only been used against specially designed targets, according to the Navy.
The Wildcat crew remained in the air and used the onboard laser targeting pod to guide a Typhoon fighter from No. 41 Squadron RAF to launch Paveway IV precision-guided munitions against the target. It was the first time an RAF Typhoon had dropped live ammunition on a warship used as a maritime target, and the first time a Royal Navy helicopter had guided the Paveway IV to its target.
The exercise, named Atlantic Thunder, was the first of its kind for the Royal Navy in 18 years and took place alongside its US Navy and US Air Force counterparts.
“It was a rare live test of complex weapons against a realistic target far out to sea and tested the power and accuracy of naval and air forces, giving the Allies real experience of hitting targets at sea at long ranges and proving the capability of several advanced combat and targeting techniques,” said the Royal Navy.
On the other hand, the Americans used their own SM-6 multi-role missile launched by the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, before the US Air Force F-15E Eagles, assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron, guided several munitions air-to-ground joint direct attack. against the ex-USS Boone.
Shortly after Atlantic Thunder, the target came to rest on the ocean floor, where it will remain under US government property in perpetuity.
“Extensive preparations took place months prior to ensure the exercise was conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, including the removal of toxic materials and pollutants from the US vessel before it could be used as a target in this way”, according to officials.
The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Boone served in the United States Navy between 1982 and 2012. The ship is named for Medal of Honor recipient Vice Admiral Joel Thompson Boone.