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NEWS | June 25, 2024

3d MDTF demonstrate ability to operate in the Indo-Pacific

By Maj. Stephen Page

FORT SHAFTER, HAWAII – 3d Multi-Domain Task Force (3MDTF) continued to demonstrate its ability to operate in the INDOPACOM theater through its participation, experimentation, and innovation in Valiant Shield 24. 3MDTF deployed teams of soldiers across the Pacific while executing distributed command and control and employing emerging concepts and capabilities partnered with Department of Defense agencies and commercial industry.

Teams operating out of Japan, Guam, and Palau integrated extended range sensing, long range communication, effects, and fires to contribute to accomplishing training objectives.

In Guam, 3MDTF soldiers, partnering with the Research and Experimentation branch of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (OUSD) and Aerostar Industries, launched high altitude balloons (HABs) from Won Pat International Airport. Once launched, the HABs rapidly ascended above 50,000 feet and began operating around the Marianas Islands. Equipped with electromagnetic sensing and mesh communications equipment, the HABs helped inform future maritime domain awareness innovation and experimentation.

While HABs floated at high altitude, Platform Aerospace, partnering with OUSD (R&E) and 3MDTF, launched the Vanilla Ultra-Long Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Vanilla holds the world record for continuous, un-refueled flight of a combustion engine aircraft (>8 days). Vanilla can be configured for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), and Persistent Communications.

For Valiant Shield 24, Vanilla performed as a communication relay, operating effectively during a 27-hour flight. Vanilla’s launch and flight, including multiple hours of flight during a violent storm, validated operational use of an Ultra-Long Endurance UAS capable of multi-day, multi-mission configurations.

Vanilla is an OUSD Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) Program; Valiant Shield 24 was Vanilla’s graduation event and formal Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 8 assessment.

In Palau, hundreds of miles away, soldiers from 3MDTF and 1-181 Artillery Regiment of the Tennessee National Guard participated in the VS24 Combined Joint Live Fire SINKEX on June 16, 2024, utilizing the U.S. Army Autonomous Multi-Domain Launcher (AML) and two Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM). During the SINKEX, the AML was able to engage a moving maritime target in conjunction with other Joint assets. The VS24 SINKEX is the first employment of both the AML and the PrSM outside of the U.S and is a significant milestone in the Army’s development of long-range fires capabilities.

The prototype launcher will be capable of convoy operations, autonomous way point navigation, tele-operation, and remote launcher turret and fire control operation.

PrSM is the Army’s next-generation Long Range Precision Fires weapon and is capable of neutralizing targets at standoffs greater than 400 kilometers.

To bring together the soldiers and capabilities spread thousands of miles throughout the Pacific, the 3MDTF All-Domain Operations Center (ADOC) on Oahu, and a Battalion command post in Japan were established. These operations centers provided the hub for synchronized planning and execution during the exercise.

VS24 provides 3MDTF an invaluable ability to train alongside partners and allies. Col. Michael Rose, the 3MDTF Commander commented, “Valiant Shield enabled us to integrate with the Combined Joint Force and operate distributed while forward in theater. We were able to build new relationships and continue to deepen existing ties. Valiant Shield and like exercises in the region enables us to test our systems and processes as well as integrate new capabilities alongside our partners and allies, contributing to the continuous transformation of our multi-domain capability and increasing our warfighting readiness.”

VS24 is a multinational, biennial field training exercise focused on integrating interoperability training in a multi-domain environment. This training builds real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking, and engaging units at sea, in the air, in space, on land, and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas. VS24 is the 10th iteration of the Valiant Shield exercise which first began in 2006.