Russian naval exercise ends as spy ship remains in Hawaii area
A Russian naval and air exercise off Hawaii, which Moscow said was the largest exercise in the Pacific since the end of the Cold War and which involved surface ships, anti-submarine aircraft and long-range bombers, has ended, but a Russian spy ship remains in the Hawaii operational area, according to a variety of sources.
The Russian government issued a press release announcing the end of the exercises, which generally took place several hundred miles west of Hawaii.
“The Russian ships are in transit to the west and have left the Hawaii operational area,” said Navy Captain Mike Kafka, a spokesman for the US Indo-Pacific Command at Camp HM Smith. “As part of our normal day-to-day operations, we continue to track all ships in the Indo-Pacific area of ââoperations using sea patrol aircraft, surface vessels and joint capabilities.”
Kafka said the Russian ships operated in international waters throughout the exercise.
“At the next point, some ships were operating about 20 to 30 nautical miles (23 to 34 miles) off the coast of Hawaii,” he said. “We have followed all ships closely.”
The Russian ships were located more than 300 miles west of the main Hawaiian islands for parts of the exercises.
The use of Russian Bear bombers during the exercise twice resulted in Hawaii Air National Guard F-22 fighters armed with missiles attempting to intercept the turboprop aircraft – which were heading for Hawaii but never came close officials said.
The Hawaii Air Guard stealth jets took off on June 13 and again on Friday, but no interceptions were made, according to a report on the launch, with Russian planes likely deviating from the state.
Record numbers of Russian aircraft interceptions off the west coast have weighed on US forces, Lt. Gen. David Krumm, head of the Alaska branch of the US Northern Command, said in late April, the Air Force Times reported.
“We have certainly seen an increase in Russian activity,” the publication quoted Krumm as saying. âWe intercepted over 60 planes last year. … We monitor more. “
The San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson – the first to support newer F-35C stealth fighter – arrived in the Hawaiian Islands operations area last week for drills that coincided with a Russian AGI surveillance vessel that was being run by a Spot off Kauai to international waters north of Oahu.
A Navy release last Wednesday said units assigned to Carrier Strike Group 1 were in the Hawaiian Islands operations area, working on integrated training with the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
“The Hawaii deployment offers Vinson unique opportunities to train together while being able to respond to a call,” Vice Admiral Steve Koehler, commander of the San Diego-based 3rd Fleet, said in the press release. “You train for a variety of missions, from long-range attacks to anti-submarine warfare, and can move anywhere in the world at short notice.”
The carrier attack group’s flagship Carl Vinson operated with Carrier Air Wing 2, Destroyer Squadron 1, the guided missile destroyers USS O’Kane, USS Howard, USS Chafee, USS Dewey, and USS Michael Murphy. The Chafee and Michael Murphy are based in Pearl Harbor.
“Training in the Hawaiian Islands area is an exciting opportunity to integrate with the other ministries to promote peace and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Rear Adm. Dan Martin, commander of the porters strike group. “We look forward to strengthening partnerships within the common force and strengthening relationships with our allies and partners in the region.”
US Naval Institute News announced that the carrier attack group is preparing for a deployment later this summer.
The Navy said Vinson will conduct “combat efficiency operations,” including integrated flight operations with his aircraft and land-based combat squadrons of the Marine Corps and Air Force, and the US Coast Guard C-130 cargo planes.
Last August, Vinson completed 17 months of maintenance, making it the first aircraft carrier equipped for both the F-35C Lightning II and the CMV-22B Osprey, the Navy said.
The F-35 “is the deadliest, most survivable and most networked fighter in the world, which gives pilots an advantage over any opponent,” said manufacturer Lockheed Martin on its website.
The CMV-22B Osprey is a variant of the tilt rotor MV-22 operated by the Marine Corps out of Kaneohe Bay and is the replacement for the C-2A Greyhound for routine transport missions. The Osprey can take off and land like a helicopter, but it transitions to a turboprop aircraft by rotating its giant propeller blades forward.
The F-35 Lightning II family includes three variants, all of which are single-seat jets.
Lockheed Martin said the F-35A is designed to operate from conventional runways and is the most common variant. The United States Air Force and the majority of its international F-35 customers operate the F-35A.
The F-35B can land vertically like a helicopter and take off at very short distances – allowing it to operate from tight, short bases and a few ships. The F-35B is operated by the Marine Corps, the United Kingdom and the Italian Air Force, Lockheed Martin said.
The F-35C, operated solely by the Department of the Navy, is the service’s first stealth fighter and was designed and built to operate on aircraft carriers.
Russian officials said the Hawaii exercise was the largest exercise in the Pacific since the end of the Cold War, CBS News reported Tuesday. A US official confirmed that this was the largest Russian exercise in a long time near Hawaii.
“At the same time, officials said a US carrier strike group, led by the USS (Carl) Vinson, is operating about 200 miles east of Hawaii and is conducting a strike group certification exercise,” CBS said. “The exercise was planned but moved closer to Hawaii in response to the Russian exercise.”
Retired Navy Captain Carl Schuster, a former director of operations for the U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center and an associate professor at Hawaii Pacific University, said Friday that the Russian spy ship, then north of Oahu in international waters, could monitor the carrier’s strike group .
“You don’t have to approach,” he said.
“They (the Russians) have a deep and ongoing interest in everything we do with our porters,” said Schuster. There has been “a lot of discussion about what the Navy will do in future wars – how we fight” and about innovative tactics. “I bet AGI is monitoring the Vinson.”