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HMAS Sydney flaunts combat power at Exercise Pacific Dragon

HMAS Sydney flaunts combat power at Exercise Pacific Dragon

The guided-missile destroyer has demonstrated its advanced strike capability alongside key regional partners.  

The guided-missile destroyer has demonstrated its advanced strike capability alongside key regional partners.  

Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Hobart Class destroyer HMAS Sydney has taken part in Exercise Pacific Dragon 2022 — a multinational maritime warfighting activity held at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands (PMRF) off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

HMAS Sydney engaged in key exercises alongside the Royal Canadian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Republic of Korea Navy, the US Missile Defense Agency and the US Navy.

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The destroyer’s contribution included leveraging its Aegis Combat System and phased array AN/SPY 1D(V) radar to track high-speed targets before launching an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile to intercept an airborne target drone.

HMAS Sydney was among a host of platforms to take part, including the RAN’s HMAS Supply, Canada’s HMCS Vancouver, Japan’s JS Haguro, South Korea’s ROKS Sejong the Great, and the United States’ USS Fitzgerald and USS William P. Lawrence.

The exercise, conducted between 5-15 August, formed part of HMAS Sydney’s broader regional presence deployment, among a total of five RAN ships across two task groups conducting regional presence deployments throughout the Indo-Pacific over recent months.

Exercise Pacific Dragon 2022 was the first iteration of the exercise, which included a live-fire intercept of a short-range ballistic missile using a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IA.

The joint warfighting exercise aimed to build tactical and technical coordination and interoperability across regional integrated air and missile defence capability and was established following a number of ballistic missile tests launched from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

In May, the regime test fired three missiles, including one intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) just days after a Quad leaders’ meeting between US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The three tests came in quick succession, with the first and second tests spaced 37 minutes apart, and a five-minute interval preceding the third test.

This was the second time Pyongyang fired an ICBM in 2022 in violation of UN sanctions, recently reaffirmed by the Security Council in resolution 2397 (2017).

The tests were strongly condemned by the international community, with the G7 issuing a formal statement.

Exercise Pacific Dragon was also conducted amid mounting tensions in the Taiwan Strait, particularly following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

The Chinese military responded to the visit by launching a major multi-domain exercise off the coast of Taiwan, launching ballistic missiles and actioning a naval blockade.

The latest reports suggest Beijing is set to ramp-up these activities in response to another upcoming visit to Taipei from a US delegation led by Senator Ed Markey.

[Related: US, Japan, South Korea conduct joint missile defence exercise ]

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