Who will win the Dragon Belt?
For the third consecutive year, a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora aircraft with crew from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron and personnel from 19 Wing Comox will participate in Exercise Sea Dragon at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Running from March 15 to March 30, 2023, Sea Dragon is a multinational anti-submarine exercise, with participating nations competing for the coveted ‘Dragon Belt’.
Having won the ‘Dragon Belt’ the last two years in a row, 407 Squadron is looking to reprise its 2021 and 2022 victories as all other countries vie to take them down.
This year’s participants include the United States Navy, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Republic of Korea Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Exercise Sea Dragon consists of three parts: introduction and warm-ups; training exercises; and then the Dragon Belt competition. Focusing primarily on anti-submarine warfare, the exercise culminates in over 270 hours of in-flight training, ranging from tracking simulated targets to the final challenge of tracking a United States Navy submarine at sea. During classroom training sessions, aircrew from all participating countries build plans and discuss tactics incorporating the capabilities and equipment of their respective nations.
“Exercises such as Sea Dragon allow for realistic training while exchanging skills, tactics and increased understanding of multinational operations,” explains Major-General Iain Huddleston, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division / Joint Forces Air Component. “The overarching goal of the exercise is to enhance the interoperability of our Long-Range Patrol force in anti-submarine warfare while also supporting Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy as we work with partners and allies to contribute to stability and security in the region.”
407 Long Range Patrol Squadron is one of two CP-140 operational squadrons who are responsible for the surveillance of Canadian maritime interests. Traditionally, this has meant watching for foreign submarines off our coasts. Today, this is only one part of their surveillance role.
The CP-140 Aurora is a long-range patrol aircraft used for multiple types of missions over land and water. The Aurora supports a wide variety of roles, including operations management, maritime and overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, strike coordination, and search and rescue. It can also assist other government agencies to combat illegal fishing, pollution, drug trafficking, and more.
As Major Scott MacDonald, Operations Flight Commander, 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron, confirms, “The opportunity to further our level of interoperability with partner nations in an exercise of this nature is invaluable. The team has been working hard to get ready for this year’s anti-submarine warfare competition and is ready to face the challenges presented by this year’s exercise organizers from CTF-72. As always, we hope to bring the ‘Dragon Belt’ back to 19 Wing Comox once more!