Navy’s ability to track and hunt submarines is being put to the test in a high-end warfare exercise off the coast of Scotland.
Exercise JOINT WARRIOR 2018 has seen 816 Squadron join one of the world’s largest and most challenging exercises in anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
The exercise is a NATO-run anti-submarine warfare activity, involving eleven nations. Three submarines, two conventional and one nuclear, are the main focus, along with more than thirty surface assets and multiple ASW helicopters and Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
Commanding Officer 816 Squadron, Commander Anthony Savage said both MH-60R 'Romeo' and teams are taking full advantage of the realistic scenarios they are facing.
“ASW is what this Squadron does best,” CMDR Savage said.
“It is a form of warfare which requires the highest of both aviation and warfare skills.
“This exercise is testing our crews, our tactics, our aircraft, and our engineering team. So far the results have been very positive.”
The exercise is a true demonstration of the ADF’s integrated force capabilities and has achieved a first deployment of its type for the RAN’s Fleet Air Arm.
One of the greatest challenges was actually getting them there. Both aircraft were dismantled and flown to Scotland in RAAF C-17s.
Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Chris Smallhorn said this presented the Squadron and the logistics and support enablers with a daunting task.
“The Fleet Air Arm is by definition expeditionary in that we deploy as a largely self-contained unit to our surface ships,” CDRE Smallhorn said.
“Reliable, well-practised logistic chains, airlift, engineering support and command lines are critical and I am pleased to observe our systems are measuring up extremely well.
“This exercise adds another crucial string to the maritime warfare bow as it demonstrates conclusively that with the help of strategic airlift we can send Naval Aviation wherever a maritime effect is required and whenever it is needed.”
Once re-assembled and operational again, the Romeos began working alongside their British cousins.
“The Royal Navy’s 820 Squadron and 816 are operating side by side,” CMDR Savage said.
“That’s given us the chance to develop our joint tactics.”
The Royal Navy flies Merlins which has presented further training opportunities for the Australians. The training value is exceptional with all sorties being conducted as a Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk and Royal Navy Merlin combat pair conducting joint tactics.
“Ultimately, the ASW role is a team effort at every phase,” CDRE Smallhorn said.
“ It’s been a truly impressive team effort from our Navy and wider ADF alongside our allies. We are sending the message that Australia is serious about being the best we can be in maritime warfare.”