Merlin helicopters and crews from 814 Naval Air Squadron (814 NAS) have returned from the Norwegian Sea, where they took part in a NATO anti-submarine warfare exercise.
Known as the ‘Flying Tigers’, 814 NAS sent two of their Merlin helicopters and 55 personnel to take part in Exercise Dynamic Mongoose, which saw them searching for hunter-killer submarines.
During the exercise, the men and women of 814 NAS worked alongside their NATO partners France, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland and Norway.
Operating from Sola air base at Stavanger in Norway, the Flying Tigers searched for the submarines actively, with sonar, and passively, by listening to the submarines’ movements.
The 814 NAS personnel operated as part of the ‘friendly forces’, working alongside various NATO maritime patrol aircraft, four surface ships, including HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen, and multiple rotary-winged assets, including Polish Mi-14 ‘Haze’ helicopters, to counter the threat posed by three submarines.
The mission was to assist in the protection of the ‘High Value Vessel’ (FGS Spessart) from an unseen enemy, who posed a very real threat lurking below the surface and ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. The quiet and elusive submarines are difficult opponents, and can prove a real challenge to detect, even with the Merlins’ advanced active sonar, passive sonics and radar.
The submarine commanders continually tested the flying crews’ war-fighting skills, but the Flying Tigers leapt to the challenge, successfully hunting and preying on the threat.
The exercise demonstrated what a highly-capable aircraft and formidable opponent the Merlin HM Mk1 can be when operated by well-trained Fleet Air Arm aviators.
Commander Chris Stock, Commanding Officer of 814 NAS, said:
Dynamic Mongoose was a fantastic opportunity to work alongside some of our NATO allies, and to put into practice our anti-submarine warfare tactics. It provided really valuable training, and the feedback from the submariners themselves illustrated how effective a well-operated Merlin can be.
I feel confident in the knowledge that the Flying Tigers of 814 NAS will be ready to fight and protect our nation’s interests against threats, whether from above or, as here, below the water.
Dynamic Mongoose was a major part of the build-up for Operation COUGAR, 814 NAS’s primary deployment later in the year.
The exercise also provided an excellent opportunity for the squadron to hone their anti-submarine warfare capabilities after a lengthy period involved in maritime security operations. 814 NAS has been supporting the international effort against illegal activities on the high seas including anti-piracy, people-trafficking, smuggling, drug-running and terrorism.
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