SQUALE 2023: Preparation for High-Intensity Combat Under the Sea
From 2 to 12 May 2023, the SQUALE anti-submarine warfare exercise took place between Toulon and Corsica.
The multi-mission frigate with enhanced air defense capability (FREMM DA) Alsace held the role of OTC (officer in tactical command) and led a naval force intended to track down a nuclear attack submarine (SNA). This force was composed of the FREMM Languedoc and its Caïman Marine, the air defense frigate (FDA) Forbin and the command and supply ship (BCR) Marne.
It was punctually completed by the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) Tonnerre and the newly created Jacques Chevallier force supply ship (BRF), currently being tested. In the air, it was able to count on the anti-submarine capabilities of the Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft, including some at standard 6, the Cayman Marine of the 31F flotilla and a detachment of two Dutch NH90s, set up for the occasion at the Hyères naval air base with their crews.
Throughout the sequences of this exercise, the SNA tried to destabilize and escape this important device. After being the subject of in-depth studies on land, several themes and scenarios were followed at sea: projection of special forces, amphibious maneuvers, refueling at sea, all under a permanent underwater threat. To detect, track and if necessary engage the submarine, the anti-submarine edges of the ships and the crews of the aircraft were very solicited: long sonar watches, detections, classifications and coordinated attacks. During this exercise, the SNA notably fired an F21 heavy torpedo, detected by a FREMM which responded with a CANTO anti-submarine decoy fire and a MU90 torpedo fire, a first for the Navy.
The challenge of this type of inter-organic and inter-allied exercise is to train underwater warfare teams and validate the ability of officers of the Naval Action Force to conduct the anti-submarine warfare of a formed force. It is directly related to the operational readiness of forces in the event of high-intensity conflict.