Tigers To Prowl Sicily
Helicopter crews from RNAS Culdrose will soon be on the prowl in Sicily, searching for the underwater enemy in NATO’s largest Mediterranean Anti-Submarine Exercise: Exercise Dynamic Manta. The Royal Navy aviators set off this morning in their Merlin Mk2 Maritime Patrol Helicopters. Personnel from 814 Naval Air Squadron, also known as ‘The Flying Tigers’, will fly 1400 miles across Europe from Helston to Sicily in order to take part in the exercise and refine their submarine hunting skills.
61 Personnel, including Aircrew and Engineers, will deploy from the Cornish based Naval Air Station. Their home for the two week exercise, running from 18th February to 4th March, will be the US Naval Air Station: Sigonella, in Eastern Sicily, sitting in the shadow of the active volcano Etna.
Dynamic Manta, formerly known as Proud Manta, will involve ships, aircraft and submarines from Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, France, The UK, The USA, Germany and Canada. The aim of the exercise is for units from across NATO to practice working together against hidden submarine opponents, played by other NATO units. 814 Squadron’s Merlin Mk2 helicopter’s primary role is Anti-Submarine Warfare and this exercise will give the crews the opportunity to both hone and demonstrate their skills.
Utilising their state of the art dipping sonar, the Merlin crews will work alongside their Italian Merlin counterparts and NATO Maritime Patrol aircraft, to attack the ‘enemy’ submarines, and keep their ships safe from the underwater threat. The UK and Italian Merlins are the only dedicated helicopters for the exercise and will be flying several sorties a day to support the scenario.
The deployment of Royal Navy Merlin helicopters to support the exercise has happened for many years, and the Merlin Force from RNAS Culdrose hope to support it for many years to come with the new Mk2 variant.
The Commanding Officer of 814 NAS, Commander Brendan Spoors said: “The Royal Navy’s continuing support to this exercise demonstrates the UK’s commitment as a key NATO partner and will allow us to showcase our Anti-Submarine Warfare skills in a multi threat environment. This exercise will present some great training opportunities against some of the worlds most advanced submarines and is part of the preparation for Merlin Mk2 and its role to protect the Continuous Carrier Capability on board Queen Elizabeth Class.”