By Yoeman 2nd Class Damien D. Darby, VP-40 Assistant Public Affairs Officer
The “Fighting Marlins” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 40 operated two P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Naval Air Station Rota, Spain in the NATO-led Steadfast Defender 2021 Maritime Live Exercise from May 20-31, 2021. Two of the squadron’s 12 Combat Aircrews executed multiple flight events conducting multinational coordinated operations across anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare mission areas, building the squadron’s interoperability and tactical expertise in a multi-domain environment.
The Maritime Live Exercise, led by Joint Force Command Norfolk (JFCNF), focuses on the rapid reinforcement of NATO’s European Allies by North American forces. Over 5,000 forces and 20 ships participated, with the aim of ensuring NATO forces are trained, able to operate together, and ready to respond to any threat from any direction. The exercise tested NATO’s ability to rapidly deploy large numbers of troops, equipment, and supplies across the Atlantic and Europe.
“VP-40 just completed the first month of our maiden P-8A deployment,” said Cmdr. Matthew Letcher, VP-40 commanding officer. “Training with our NATO Allies in Steadfast Defender enabled our aircrew to exercise the full breadth of P-8A mission systems and improve their tactical readiness in a dynamic environment. Steadfast Defender also provided a great opportunity for our maintenance team to demonstrate agility while operating at a forward-detached location with minimal support. The squadron’s motto of Laging Handa means ‘always ready’, and exercises like this are extremely important to ensure the entire Fighting Marlin team remains ‘always ready’ to execute our mission anywhere at any time as we work with our NATO Allies to maintain regional stability.”
At the conclusion of Steadfast Defender, VP-40 participated in a photo exercise capturing the might of all participating assets in a formation steam.
VP-40 is currently assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 67 and is forward-deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR). CTF 67 is composed of land-based maritime patrol aircraft that operate over the waters of the Mediterranean in anti-submarine reconnaissance, surveillance, and surface warfare missions.