Royal Air Force maritime patrol personnel are training with nine NATO Allies and Partners in a major maritime exercise in the Central Mediterranean and Ionian Sea.
Royal Air Force maritime patrol personnel are training with nine NATO Allies and Partners in a major maritime exercise in the Central Mediterranean and Ionian Sea.

Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Sharpen Submarine Hunting Skills in NATO’s Dynamic Manta

The UK’s anti-submarine forces took their skills to the next level during the largest workout in the Mediterranean. For the first time two RAF Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft from CXX Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth joined the Royal Navy for NATO’s Dynamic Manta, two weeks of cutting-edge tech and training involving seven Allied nations in the vanguard of underwater warfare. In service since 2020, the Poseidon MRA1 has concentrated its training and operations in waters around the UK to date. The Poseidon MRA1 is designed to carry out extended surveillance missions at both high and low altitudes.

Detachment commander Squadron Leader Pete Surtees said crews welcomed the variety of the combined training with numerous NATO allies off the coast of Sicily as the exercise tested individual skills and enhanced collective effectiveness. “The momentum is really building. We’ve taken Poseidon Force from securing the seas around the UK to operating overseas in support of a very complex exercise. It’s providing great training opportunities and moving the capability forwards, we’re really back to where we need to be.”

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Maritime task group operating on Dynamic Manta
Maritime task group operating on Dynamic Manta.

It’s equipped with cutting-edge sensors which uses high-resolution area mapping to find possible threats on or beneath the waves. Poseidon can also drop sonobuoys which sit in the ocean and ‘listen’ for submarines. 814 Naval Air Squadron from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall also dispatched a Merlin Mark 2 helicopter to Sigonella airbase near Catania. From there, they launched regular patrols over the exercise area in the Ionian Sea.

Canada, France, Greece, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and USA, plus hosts Italy committed ships, submarines and air power to Dynamic Manta 2022. The long-running exercise is one of two NATO runs focusing on anti-submarine warfare; the other is held off Norway or Iceland to test forces in colder Atlantic waters. At sea Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Trent acted as hunter and hunted with a NATO task group. Each participating ship had the opportunity to conduct varied anti-submarine operations, while the submarines acted as both hunters and hunted, closely coordinating their efforts with the aircraft and surface vessels.

The 814 NAS Merlin returns to Sigonella with Catania and the snow-covered Mt Etna in the distance
The 814 NAS Merlin returns to Sigonella with Catania and the snow-covered Mt Etna in the distance.

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