Defence has deployed a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of Operation SEA GUARDIAN 22.
Operation SEA GUARDIAN is an ongoing non-Article 5 NATO maritime security operation aimed at maintaining maritime situational awareness, deterring terrorism, and enhancing capacity building in the Mediterranean region.
Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said Australia’s participation in the operation reflected Australia’s ongoing partnership in exercising our Memorandum of Understanding with NATO.
“Australia is a NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner and an important Asia-Pacific member for the Alliance,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.
“Our partner status recognises Australia’s significant contributions to NATO operations and the value that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has demonstrated over several decades.
“Our participation in Operation SEA GUARDIAN is an opportunity to extend Australia’s interoperability with the alliance to the maritime air surveillance domain.
“This represents a natural step-up in our ongoing partnership, focused on responding to today’s global security challenges. Wherever possible, the ADF supports European security initiatives to uphold the rules based international order.
“I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the deployment, which will guide our future maritime surveillance cooperation with NATO.”
The P-8A will be based in Italy and will operate in the Western and Central Mediterranean until mid-October 2022.