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Royal Australian Air Force P-8A maritime patrol aircraft completes first mission with NATO’s operation Sea Guardian.

| 2022

NATO has forged a new partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) through its maritime security operation in the Mediterranean. A RAAF P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft deployed from its base in Edinburgh, South Australia, to Sigonella, Italy, accompanied by a team of 45 crew, maintenance, and security personnel from the RAAF’s 11 Squadron.

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Royal Australian Air Force P 8A maritime patrol aircraft completes first mission with NATOs operation Sea Guardian For the first time, a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon has joined NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian.  (Picture source: NATO)

The aircraft completed several flying missions between Oct 3 to 14, over the Mediterranean Sea, conducting overwater surveillance in support of NATO’s ongoing maritime operation in the region, known as Operation Sea Guardian. The P-8A added significantly to the maritime picture and overall maritime situational awareness. Operation Sea Guardian also aims to deter terrorism and enhance capacity building in the region.

This is the first time Australia has sent a P-8A to Europe, a journey which took three days.

The Australian Air Force brought with them a very effective and powerful sensor in the P-8A maritime patrol aircraft which made a significant contribution to the intelligence picture. That, combined with the professionalism, demeanor and flexibility of the deployed personnel provided outstanding results, highlighting Australia’s importance as a partner to Operation Sea Guardian.

The Commanding Officer of 11 Squadron, RAAF, Wing Commander Adam Saber, said the deployment certified the Australian Defence Force capability to connect to, and operate within, the NATO architecture, adding:

"In this case, it was the P-8A, a highly capable and versatile multi-role aircraft. But this deployment was also more than just the aircraft – it meant our maintenance team working with the host squadrons, our communications specialists and intelligence team connecting with the NATO networks and our logistics personnel moving mission equipment in and out of Europe."

“The end result – we confirmed Australian capacity to seamlessly integrate into the coalition environment and retain our enhanced operational partner status.”

A Royal Australian Air Force liaison officer coordinated between the team in Italy and the Headquarters Allied Maritime Command in Northwood.

Thanking all NATO personnel who welcomed the RAAF, Saber added:

“This has been an extremely successful detachment, and we - as the Australian Defence Force - learned a great deal. It was made far easier by the wonderful support provided from NATO Maritime Command, the Italian Air Force at Naval Air Station Sigonella, U.S. Navy Combined Task Force 67, and Patrol Squadrons 9 and 4.”

MARCOM is the central command of all NATO maritime forces and the MARCOM Commander is the primary maritime advisor to the Alliance. Like its land and air counterparts (LANDCOM and AIRCOM), MARCOM reports directly to NATO's Allied Command Operations (ACO), which is located in Mons, Belgium.

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