June 2 (UPI) -- A coordinated missile strike during an exercise in Norway was the first use of Harpoon missiles by Poseidon P-8A planes, the U.S. Navy said on Wednesday.
The three planes, modified Boeing 737s outfitted for surveillance and reconnaissance use, are equipped with AGM-84D air-to-surface missiles, and demonstrated their capability on Monday during NATO's three-week At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 2021 exercise.
Two missiles were used against a target barge off Norway's east coast, a Navy statement said.
"Having multinational allies, with whom we are capable of integrating seamlessly within the air and maritime domains, is critical to our strategic and operational objectives in the North Atlantic," said Cmdr. Johnny Harkins, commanding officer of Patrol Squadron Four, or VP-4, attached to the Navy's 6th Fleet.
"Our Combat Aircrews demonstrated their expertise using the P-8A to enhance the common operating picture in support of multi-unit strike operations," Harkins said.
The missiles give the P-8As the ability to challenge enemy naval movements, either in support of offensive operations or in order to defend friendly forces, the Navy said.
The planes are also capable of carrying and releasing AN/ALE-55 towed decoys, carried in under-wing pods similar to those carrying the missiles, which can jam enemy radar or lure incoming radar-homing missiles away from the aircraft.
The exercises are led by the United States and centered on Scotland's Hebrides Range and The Andoya Space Defense facility in Andenes, Norway. Ten nations, with 16 vessels, 10 aircraft and about 3,300 personnel, are participating.