Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pelicans Like Ike

By Lt.j.g. Matt Melfa, Patrol Squadron 45 Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla (NNS) -- The Pelicans of P-3C Orion Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 continue to play an integral role in Carrier Strike Group 8's composite unit training exercise (COMPTUEX).

The ongoing 24-day exercise spans waters and airspace from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida's Space Coast, to simulate a modern conflict against symmetric and asymmetric forces.

"I've enjoyed the chance to be a part of something that involves the rest of the Navy," said Lt.j.g. John Leeds, VP-45 navigation and communication officer. "Most of the time we are out there alone and unafraid, so it's interesting to see how the P-3 fits in to the greater warfighting capabilities of the Navy."

The exercise is designed to mirror the entire spectrum of warfare that the strike group can face on today's oceans and battlefields. The Pelicans have been supporting round-the-clock flight operations to participate in the exercise.

The P-3's missions in the strike group include anti-submarine warfare, water space sanitization for a simulated strait transits and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance collection on land based and maritime targets.

COMPTUEX includes participants from all of the Navy's warfare communities, as well as components from the Spanish Navy, Brazilian Navy and contract aggressor air units. Cmdr. Michael Vitali, VP-45's executive officer has been aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) for the exercise to provide P-3 strategic advisement and liaise between the squadron and the strike group regarding maritime patrol support.

"I love seeing the Orion at work," said Vitali. "It's amazing how the P-3's capabilities can extend the eyes of the strike group beyond the horizon so that they have a perfect picture of any potential maritime threats long before they arrive. I couldn't be more proud of the work the Pelicans are doing out here."

The culmination of VP-45's involvement of the exercise came when they flew on the BMS Tikuna, a Brazilian Type-209 submarine. The Tikuna played the role of an enemy submarine force attempting to infiltrate the strike group water-space to gather intelligence and carry off a torpedo attack on the strike group's surface assets. VP-45 aircrew demonstrated the unsurpassed airborne anti-submarine warfare capabilities of the P-3 when they held the Tikuna in contact for six hours and delivered four successful torpedo attacks on the boat.

"With the widespread proliferation of submarine technology in the 21st century, this exercise emphasized how indispensable the P-3 is to strike group operations, despite being one of the oldest airframes in the Navy's inventory," said Lt.j.g. Matt Melfa, a member of VP-45.

COMPTUEX is designed to test and evaluate the cooperation and operational capabilities of participating units, ensuring preparation and qualification for upcoming deployments. The exercise has included more than 15 U.S. and foreign ships operating together through a dynamic scenario.