The Royal Australian Navy guided-missile destroyer HMAS Sydney showcased its capabilities during Exercise Pacific Dragon 2022, launching an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and successfully intercepting an airborne target drone.

The vessel also demonstrated how it could track high-speed targets with its Aegis Combat System and AN/SPY-1D(V) fixed array radar, which enhances the Aegis fleet air defense platform.

The Hobart-class destroyer participated with surface vessels from the Royal Canadian Navy, the Republic of Korea Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the US Missile Defense Agency, and the US Navy in the drills.

The vessels present during the exercise included HMAS Supply, HMCS Vancouver, ROKS Sejong the Great, JS Haguro, USS Fitzgerald, USS William P. Lawrence.

Exercise Pacific Dragon

HMAS Sydney fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile at Exercise Pacific Dragon during a regional presence deployment. Photo: Leading Seaman David Cox

Exercise Pacific Dragon 2022 was held from August 5 to 15 at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

The biennial multinational integrated air and missile defense exercise was the first iteration of the event. 

Led by the US, the goal of the exercise was to enhance the participating nations’ “tactical and technical coordination and interoperability concerning regional integrated air and missile defence capability.”

The program included an intercept activity targeting a live-fired short-range ballistic missile using the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IA interceptor built by Raytheon Missiles and Defense.

Australia’s Regional Presence

The participation of HMAS Sydney in the exercise is part of its commitment to join regional deployments. With the ship, five other ships of the Royal Australian Navy have been conducting regional presence patrols in various Indo-Pacific regions over recent months.

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According to the Australian Government Defence, the navy’s presence in the Pacific deployments displays the nation’s commitment and engagement in the region.

Moreover, it plays a vital role in the country’s long-term security “by protecting Australia’s interests, preserving a rules based order, enhancing cooperation and relationships with regional partners and allies and developing capability and interoperability.”