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Decades-Old U.S. Warship Blasted From All Sides During a Rare Live Fire Test

A loyal U.S. Navy warship ended up at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after being hit by multiple missiles launched from ships, helicopters, and aircraft at the same time. And that was just the Royal Navy’s part (the U.S. Navy launched its own attack as well). But don’t worry, this was all part of a planned exercise, aptly-named Atlantic Thunder.
HMS Westminster launched Harpoon missiles against USS Boone 9 photos
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USS Boone is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate that proudly served between 1982 and 2012 before being decommissioned. After months of preparations, it would end up at the bottom of the ocean after being used as the bullseye for what is considered “a rare live test of complex weapons,” an exercise called Atlantic Thunder.

It’s rare because a realistic target is used far out at sea so that naval power can test their accuracy in hitting targets from a long range and gain real-world experience. This year’s exercise was the first in 18 years for UK’s Royal Navy, which practiced together with the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

The decommissioned warship became the target of an extremely powerful attack. Two Harpoon missiles came at it, launched from HMS Westminster, a type 23 frigate. The Martlet air-to-surface missiles were dropped from the frigate’s helicopter, a Wildcat. This was an important premiere because, until now, this type of missile had only been launched against targets that were specifically built for that. Now, they were used against a real target at sea.

Another premiere had to do Typhoon fighter jets. For the first time, a Wildcat helicopter’s crew guided a Typhoon fighter to drop precision-guided munitions against the target. And, again, it was the first time that the target was a real warship at sea.

On the other hand, the U.S. blasted its own former warship. Missiles came from the USS Arleigh Burke destroyer, a Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and F-15E Eagles.

As you can imagine, this was a highly-complex operation, integrating multiple weapons, communications, and sensors between two allies. As the exercise was concluded, the USS Boone sank forever, fulfilling its duty to the very end.

press release

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