Stealth Over Sabah

22 RMR soldiers waiting to move out after getting out of a U.S Marine Super Stallion

SHAH ALAM: Stealth Over Sabah. A couple of U.S Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters took part in a live firing exercise at Kota Belud range in Sabah on Aug. 15. The stealth fighters were embarked on USS Essex, a Wasp class LHD which is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)

The ARG is now involved in the 24th iteration of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) between Malaysia and U.S. The current political scenario means that the exercise reverted to a low key mode without any media coverage apart from official releases unlike previous ones.

A pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 “Wake Island Avengers,” 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, conducts the preflight inspection of an F-35B Lightning II on the first day of Red Flag 17-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 10, 2017. USMC picture

The F-35Bs embarked on the Essex belonged to the the “Wake Island Avengers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211. No pictures of the squadron involvement in Carat has been released so far, when they do I will published them in another post. There is also no word on whether RMAF took part in the exercise though a Hawk 208 was slightly damaged after it skidded off the runway when landing at the Labuan airport on Aug. 14. The pilot escaped unhurt.
A bomb exploding at the Kota Belud likely from an F-35B from USS Essex. JF picture.

The involvement of the F-35s in the live firing exercise was only revealed when the Joint Force headquarters posted on it in its official social media channels. Even the U.S in its official release had not stated the involvement of the F-35s or even the Essex in the exercise.
A U.S Marine combat controller talking with the F-35B at the Kota Belud range

The U.S. and Royal Malaysian Navy commenced the 24th iteration of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Malaysia in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, August 10.

The CARAT exercise focuses on the full spectrum of naval capabilities and is designed to strengthen the close partnership between both navies while cooperatively ensuring maritime security, stability and prosperity.

“In nearly a quarter of a century of CARAT exercises, we have continued to ensure forward presence, deterrence and sea control each time when U.S. and Royal Malaysian ships get underway together and conduct cooperative exercises,” said Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, Commander Task Force 73.

Expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 4) and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will conduct nearly a dozen at-sea exercises with the Royal Malaysian Navy including a gunnery exercise (GUNNEX) to maintain Sailors’ readiness with onboard weapon systems, visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) exercise to increase and maintain proficiency in boarding vessels that may harbor illegal weapons and drugs, and division tactics (DIVTACS) to enhance cooperative fleet maneuvers.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us working side by side, to improve and enhance all of our operational capabilities,” said Brig. Gen. William Jurney, Commanding General of 3rd Marine Infantry Division. “We look forward to continuing to advance all of our joint and integrated capabilities’ both here and in the future.”

CARAT Malaysia builds upon other engagements with Malaysia including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), which involves nearly a dozen partner nations. These engagements serve to enhance information sharing and coordination and support long-term regional cooperation.

“I have seen first-hand the professionalism of the Malaysian Armed Forces. Annually for the past 24 years our armed forces have engaged and exercised with each other in increasingly complex and sophisticated scenarios. Throughout this time we have learned much about each other – how we communicate and operate – and it is vital to effectively working together to ensure security, stability and prosperity in the region,” said Capt. Lex Walker, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7.

“The aim of this exercise is to enhance interoperability as well as individual capacity to conduct amphibious operations at a tactical level,” said Maj. Gen. Dato’ Zulkapri bin Rahamat, General of Officer Commanding Task Force 450. “It is also to provide good opportunities for all of us to reshape ideas and experiences so that we can plan and conduct operations in the region whenever something arises. We are looking forward to an active discussion and a productive outcome in the planning and conduct of amphibious assault and ship-to-ship training as well as other exposures through subject matter expert exchanges.”

Malaysia has been part of the CARAT exercise series since it began in 1995. After more than two decades of annual training events between the armed forces, CARAT Malaysia remains a model for cooperation that has evolved in complexity and enables both navies to refine operations and tactics in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges.

A Ch-53 Super Stallion from USS Essex landing on a beach at Lahad Datu as part of the Carat exercise.

It must be noted also that a US Marine went overboard during Essex transit to Sulu Sea ahead of the exercise resulted in massive SAR operations. The marine remained missing until now.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. The stealth is the best candidate for the MRCA requirement of the next gen air force, beside the TA50 as the LCA/LIFT. Perhaps our navy could also embark a few vtol stealth on each of the future MRSS. Training can be done with airforce TA50, as what they are doing currently to train the navy pilots at KTU. Common platform and training, operation and maintenance could save some cost.

  2. Interesting timing ..Tun’s way of a subtle warning to China perhaps ?

    No lah this kind of thing has been planned for at least two years. The no media coverage was the result of the new administration. If it was meant as a warning to China, the media coverage would be wall to wall

  3. it is uncle Sam’s subtle way of saying, come ,let me show you what F35 can do, place your order now.
    mho, its overprice mud mover..

  4. Remember how Malaysia can have its indigenous stealth fighter by 2030, according to a certain quack “professor” from a national university a while back…

  5. This is good! instead of force landing why not make it legal landing.. not just terrorist treat being demoralized internal terrorist posible treat if there is any too… political perspective at least were aint look like terrorist for future to come if we having this 🤣 good training bring up mussle memory keep it up! Cheers!!

  6. Have to concur with Marhalim. The ‘less publicity’ drive seems to be the new Mindef norm. Unless blurted out by the Hon. MenHan himself of course! I sincerely hope our air force (and) navy will get to hear some positive news from the upcoming National Budget announcement.

  7. Off topic ..has the AV8 program been stopped and how many AV8 have been delivered to-date..? Honestly the New PH Government will not purchase any new significant assets .they will just maintain the existing ones..because Tun is a lame duck PM when he promised to step down after 2 years and his Bersatu Party being the weakest component in PH he cannot over stay in his position as PM..and if DSAI comes in he’ll be in-charge for approx 2 years as well..Its not a strong stable government with resolve to strengthen the our defense forces..

    The AV8 delivery has been delayed by the previous government, its moving but slowly, no numbers of vehicles delivery has been given. At DSA Deftech says 118 already delivered. My guess only another 20 vehicles will be delivered this year.

  8. Under Abang Mat, unit media Kementerian Pertahanan all gone kaput ke apa?

    Nolah but as Mahathir had said he did not any foreign warships in SCS, the Armed Forces cannot be seen as working with a foreign navy. As I had stated before this year’s Carat had been planned two year’s ago so they cannot simply cancelled just like that. So the next best thing is to not have any media coverage

  9. so…before this ATM need to make media coverage so the rakyat and especially politician know what our armed force doing which is nice since it boost morale and teach the citizen. now we going what ways???at least it just for exercise with foreign nation. hope next exercise within our armed force will be carried with the eyes of all those new Malaysia official so they know ad interact with people. or even better join the exercise.

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