Kiwis get rare torpedo-drop opportunity on RIMPAC

Ships and aircraft of the New Zealand Defence Force joined forces to hunt down an ‘enemy’ submarine and attack it with torpedoes, at RIMPAC last week.

Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha, her Seasprite helicopter and two P-3K2 Orions from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No 5 Squadron each fired a torpedo at the target, a remote-controlled underwater vehicle playing the part of a submarine.

An NZDF spokesman said anti-submarine warfare was 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.

A MK46 torpedo drops from an RNZAF Orion P-3K2 bomb bay during a live-fire anti-submarine mission during RIMPAC16. Royal New Zealand Navy photo by Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn.
A MK46 torpedo drops from an RNZAF Orion P-3K2 bomb bay during a live-fire anti-submarine mission during RIMPAC16. Royal New Zealand Navy photo by Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn.

Orion pilot Flight Lieutenant Jonathan Pound said sonar buoys had 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,” Flight Lieutenant Jonathan Pound said.

“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.”

Commanding Officer No 5 Squadron Wing Commander 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,” Wing Commander Hunt said.

“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.”.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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