Joint training missions are often described as being vital to the readiness of U.S. military forces and demonstrate their ability to integrate platforms across multiple domains.
It is uncertain if the fall football classics between the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Military Academy will take place this fall to determine who is awarded the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, but this month such inter-service rivalries were put aside as the Air Force and Navy performed a joint exercise in the Black Sea.
It focused on realistic integration, operation and communication between surface warships and air assets to protect the maritime domain.
The training mission occurred in international waters and airspace within the Black Sea and was confirmed by the U.S. 6th Fleet.
This recent drill, which took place on Sunday, was not announced in advance—and that fact caused some curiosity among online flight trackers who started observing multiple military aircraft The Aviationist reported.
The exercise was centered around the USS Porter (DDG-78), an Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, and included a P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from Patrol Squadron VP-47, four F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Aerial Refueling wing, Mildenhall, England, and an MQ-9 Reaper assigned to the 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Detachment 2, Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland.
The Aviationist also reported the F-16s that took part in the drills “were flying with live air-to-air ordnance, which is not usual during training.
The live missiles could be identified in the photos by the yellow and brown bands, for the live warhead and the live rocket motor, respectively.”
That site added that all four of the F-16 jets were each armed with two AIM-120C/D AMRAAMs, one AIM-9X Sidewinder, two 370-gallon external fuel tanks and the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod.