Merlin helicopters from 829 Naval Air Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose will be deploying to France on Exercise SPONTEX during May. Two of the helicopters will be operating from the French Naval Air Station Lann-Bihoué in Lorient, and the Merlin helicopter from the Type 23 Frigate, HMS Westminster will also be taking part in the exercise.
Exercise SPONTEX is a major multi-unit Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise set on the Western coast of the Brest peninsula involving various ships, aircraft and submarines from the UK, USA, France, Germany and Sweden. The exercise will provide a realistic and demanding training environment to improve the readiness, proficiency and tactical skills of all participants. It will also give the Merlin crews an excellent opportunity to practice their primary role of Anti-Submarine Warfare as they operate against a variety of exercise “enemies” not normally encountered in British waters.
Flight Pilot, Lt Chris Suckling said: “SPONTEX is a fantastic opportunity for us to practice our Anti-Submarine Warfare skills in an exercise which will give us an intense period of concentrated tactical activity. It provides a great chance to improve interoperability as we will be working closely with other NATO maritime air, sub- surface and surface units.”
Photos by Paul A’Barrow