An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | July 20, 2022

Air Force MQ-9 Makes Its Debut at Rim of the Pacific Sinking Exercise 2022

By Airman 1st Class Ariel OShea Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The first-ever use of a U.S. Air Force MQ-9A Reaper, a remotely piloted aircraft, during a Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 sinking exercise (SINKEX), July 12.

Participating in the SINKEX provided an opportunity for units from Australia, Canada, Malaysia and the U.S. to test weapons and systems in a simulated environment, working against opposing forces and eventually culminating in the explosion of a decommissioned naval vessel and marked a significant development in maritime warfighting capability.

The presence of the MQ-9A’s at the world’s largest international maritime exercise provides an opportunity for combined and joint-force collaboration.

“They need us and we need them,” said U.S. Air National Guard Capt. Phillip West, the RIMPAC MQ-9 maritime force integration lead. “That's where RIMPAC comes into play.”

He said the Air Force and the Navy speak different languages, each using their own distinct jargon. Working together on exercises like RIMPAC and the SINKEX promotes smooth communication between the branches. This ensures sharpened combat readiness, increased strategic impact, and strengthened deterrence efforts by providing tactical proficiency to MQ-9A aircrews.

“Participation in the RIMPAC exercise is helping us evolve,” said Col. Steven Beattie, 49th Operations Group commander. “We’re 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 for the SINKEX was the gathering of practical data about operating in a maritime environment as opposed to a desert environment.

“The data that we have in a simulator feeds off of real-world engagements like SINKEX,” West said. “With what’s called the new Smart Sensor, they're trying to build a database of what ships look like. They need us to actually do it so that they can build a database, and then they can fit it into a simulator so we can practice it and have more efficient training.”

The SINKEX is one of the many unique training opportunities RIMPAC provides to the U.S. military, its allies, and partner nations. With it, we can foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans.

This year is historic not only because of the MQ-9A but because it marks a return to a full-scale exercise not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 iteration of RIMPAC was reduced in scale to be conducted with less face-to-face contact. The return to a full-scale exercise demonstrates capable, adaptive partners working together to increase the interoperability, resiliency, and agility needed by the 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 Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

Like Us
Follow Us



In Close Orbit: Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 Aboard USS Tripoli (LHA 7)
A naval air crewman jumps out of an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 during a search and rescue (SAR) swimmer training evolution Sept. 22, 2022. HSC-23 is embarked aboard amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA 7). Tripoli is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and maintain stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Oct. 4, 2022 - PHILIPPINE SEA -- The Sailors of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, Detachment 1, provide amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli with an important multi-role air asset.HSC-23 performs several essential missions for the...

U.S. Army Civil Affairs Support Rally For Rangers in Mongolia
U.S. Army Civil Affairs support Rally For Rangers in Mongolia.
Oct. 4, 2022 - U.S. Embassy in Mongolia -- In partnership with the Mongol Ecology Center and Spirit of America, a U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team supported the “Rally for Rangers” event, a cross-country journey aimed to benefit the Mongolian...

State of Alaska ships 14,000 Pounds of Relief Supplies to Merbok-impacted Region
Alaska Air National Guardsmen of 211th Rescue Squadron and 176th Logistics Readiness Squadron load relief supplies bound for Bethel Sept. 29, 2022, on an HC-130J Combat King II. More than 130 members of the Alaska Organized Militia, which includes members of the Alaska National Guard, Alaska State Defense Force and Alaska Naval Militia, were activated following a disaster declaration issued Sept. 17 after the remnants of Typhoon Merbok caused dramatic flooding across more than 1,000 miles of Alaskan coastline.
Oct. 4, 2022 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Alaska State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is working closely with state, federal and private-sector partners to coordinate the shipment and distribution of thousands of...

Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership
Oct. 4, 2022 - U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Australia: We—the governments of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa,...

U.S. and Republic of Korea Conduct Bilateral Exercise
U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 8th Fighter Wing conducted flight operations over the Korean peninsula with Republic of Korea F-15Ks from the 11th Fighter Wing to demonstrate the close coordination and quick response between the two nations.
Oct. 4, 2022 - Following the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missile launch over Japan Oct. 4 (KST), U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and Republic of Korea (ROK) personnel conducted a bilateral exercise over the West Sea on Oct...