In January, US forces in the Indo-Pacific conducted Sea Dragon 21, a large-scale anti-submarine warfare exercise with several allied and partner countries.
Exercise Sea Dragon 21 lasted for two weeks and was concluded on January 27. Besides American forces, it involved units from India, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
Close to 200 airmen and sailors conducted more than 250 hours of ground and classroom training before taking off to track a US Navy submarine.
The US 7th Fleet, which is responsible for the Indo-Pacific area of operations, can deploy between 50 and 70 vessels, including destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships, submarines, and aircraft carriers, and close to 400 aircraft—which is more than the entire air fleets of most countries.
“VP-5 was certainly looking forward to the opportunity to flex our ASW muscles and enjoy some friendly competition with our allied partners during Exercise Sea Dragon,” said Navy Lieutenant Reed Arce, a P-8 Poseidon pilot from Patrol Squadron 5, in a press release. “We learned so much when comparing tactics between aircrews, and the ability to constantly improve our warfighting skills. We hope to leave Guam with all participants being at their peak performance in prosecuting sub-surface threats anywhere in the world.”
Sea Dragon is an annual anti-submarine warfare exercise that aims to improve the interoperability between allied and partner countries in the Indo-Pacific area of operations.
The final event of Sea Dragon 21 saw aircraft and crews from all five countries trying to track the USS Providence, a Los Angeles-class submarine.
Every national crew was scored separately, with the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 407 Squadron coming on top and wining the Dragon Belt, the annual exercise’s prize for the best crew.
“Sea Dragon 2021 has given VP-8 the chance to coordinate and be on station with other crews and other countries, which has proved invaluable,” said Navy Lieutenant Joseph Moralesvargas, a P-8 Poseidon pilot from Patrol Squadron 8. “The opportunity to speak with other operators and hear their philosophy and insight on ASW has given me new perspective. I can’t think of any other exercise that would give us this chance.”
Sea Dragon 21 comes at a very pertinent moment, as the Pentagon is focusing increasingly more on China.