Royal Air Force Poseidon jets from RAF Lossiemouth have arrived in Sicily to participate in a major NATO training exercise. Operating from Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Exercise DYNAMIC MANTA will see CXX Squadron join aircraft and personnel from 9 allied nations for two weeks of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare training. Held yearly, the maritime exercise provides participants with a complex and challenging warfare environment to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in maritime patrol operations. CXX Squadron’s job will be to help locate the vessels below and above the surface by coordinating the search efforts.
“Deploying two Poseidon aircraft to Sicily for this major exercise, whilst still conducting training and flying from RAF Lossiemouth, is a great example of the progress being made as we work towards our full operating capability,”Squadron Leader Birchall Detachment Commander CXX Squadron said.
“The high-end training and complex exercise environment offered by Dynamic Manta combined with the opportunity to share best practise with so many other partners and allies is invaluable. Our presence here also demonstrates the UK’s commitment to maritime security and deepening cooperation with our NATO allies,”Squadron Leader Birchall
Detachment Commander CXX Squadron said.
Submarines and surface ships will join with maritime patrol aircraft in the Central Mediterranean Sea to support the multi-threat environment during the exercise. Each surface ship will take turns to carry-out a range of anti-submarine operations and the submarines themselves will have the opportunity to hunt and be hunted.
With two crewed aircraft and engineering and communications staff providing specialist support, the deployment on Exercise DYNAMIC MANTA displays the Poseidon force’s ability to operate at home and abroad simultaneously, with operations ongoing in the North Atlantic from their home base at RAF Lossiemouth. Exercise DYNAMIC MANTRA is one of two major anti-submarine exercises held by NATO every year.
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is an American maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft developed and produced by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, and derived from the civilian Boeing 737-800. On 11 July 2016, Boeing announced the signing of a $3.87 billion (£3 billion) contract for nine P-8s and support infrastructure, spread across three production lots over a ten-year period, with deliveries commencing in 2019. The MR.Mk 2 was also withdrawn, leaving the UK without effective long-range, fixed-wing maritime cover. Project Seedcorn saw personnel posted into maritime patrol units with allied air arms, maintaining vital skills until the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed the intended purchase of nine Poseidons for the RAF. With the Poseidon squadron numbers chosen, the type has operated from RAF Lossiemouth since 2020.