Defence Helicopter

Royal Navy Merlin Mk2s hunt subs in the Ionian Sea

26th February 2020 - 12:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 helicopters are being put through their paces during NATO’s annual test of anti-submarine forces in the Ionian Sea.

The Flying Tigers of 814 Naval Air Squadron have joined forces from Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Britain, the US and Italy for the two-week Exercise Dynamic Manta.

Assisted by eight surface ships and five long-range maritime patrol aircraft, the Merlin Mk2 from Culdrose is equipped with sonobuoys, a dipping sonar, operations room and Sting Ray torpedoes to carry out aerial anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.

In addition to enabling the helicopters to test their ASW capabilities, the exercise also provides an opportunity for naval vessels to evade the helicopters, frigates and sonobuoys trying to locate them and conduct mock attacks on the surface ships.

Rear Admiral Andrew Burcher, in charge of NATO submarine operations, said the fortnight-long war game remained ‘one of the most challenging exercises – and an excellent opportunity for NATO nations’ naval forces to practise and evaluate their anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare skillset in a challenging environment.’

The Merlin helicopters are a key part of ASW protection for the UK's nuclear deterrent submarines and the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike groups.

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