July 21, 2016 - Ships and aircraft of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) have joined forces to hunt down an “enemy” submarine and attack it with torpedoes.
The live firing test took place this week off Hawaii during RIMPAC 2016 – the world’s biggest international maritime exercise.
The Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha, her Seasprite helicopter and two P-3K2 Orions from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) No 5 Squadron each fired a torpedo at the target, a remote underwater vehicle playing the part of a submarine.
Anti-submarine warfare is a key part of the NZDF’s maritime combat capability and the exercise provided an intense test of the combined skills of the ship, helicopter and the two Orions.
Orion pilot Flight Lieutenant Jonathan Pound said: “Sonar buoys have to be laid in a particular pattern to hunt a submarine. For us, this involved precision flying from 2000 feet to as low as 200 feet above the sea.
“It also included steep turns – a 60 degree angle of bank – which meant the Orion was essentially on its side and the crew was experiencing 2G, twice the force of gravity.”
The Commanding Officer of No 5 Squadron, Wing Commander (WGCDR) Daniel Hunt, said the torpedo drop was the first by an RNZAF aircraft in over five years.
“The range here in Hawaii has the ability to provide almost instantaneous feedback to the crew about how accurate the drop was. This allows us to externally validate our processes and procedures and ensure we have an effective combat capability.
“In New Zealand we do not have a range with this sort of fidelity and the cost of owning one would be prohibitive, which is why attendance at RIMPAC is such a major event for the team.”
He said the technology involved was crucial to the exercise.
“It provides valuable opportunities for us to train and learn with our multi-national partners.
“It was a real team effort from loading the torpedoes to locating, tracking and attacking the target below the surface. It’s a great demonstration of our warfare capability.”