The Colombian National Navy participated in the Peruvian-American anti-submarine war exercise, marking the first time that a regional naval force joins the training.
In the depths of the waters off the coast of Peru, submarines navigate slowly, avoiding collisions and evading the aircraft that pursue them. In the sky, aircraft crews focus on radars and acoustic data. Once the location of the targets has been confirmed, the missiles are launched in a simulated exercise.
The training is part of the binational exercise called Silent Forces (SIFOREX, in English) made since 2001 between the Navy of Peru and the Naval Forces of the Southern Command of the USA. UU (NAVSO, in English). Developed between April 16 and 24 on the coast of Callao, in the Peruvian Pacific, SIFOREX 2018 counted for the first time with the participation of a third naval force: the Colombian National Navy.
The biannual naval exercise allows the promotion of antisubmarine war strategies and capabilities with electric-diesel submarines and provides a unique opportunity to consolidate the crews’ knowledge. Likewise, the exercise strengthens the bonds of friendship between the naval forces that participate actively and as observers. The navies of Brazil and Argentina took part as observers of the SIFOREX 2018.
“The SIFOREX is an exercise that has had a very valuable specific weight this year  because we have, first, opened our doors so that other armed friends can come and train like us,” Diálogo told the Captain of the Navy of Peru Antonio Vildoso Concha, Chief of Operations of the General Commander of Pacific Operations. “Second, for the USA. UU and for us it is always helpful to do antisubmarine war exercises because we train people, we test material. It always helps to interoperate. ”
Latest generation equipment
NAVSO participated with the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, three Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft and one MH-60 helicopter. For its part, Peru used three submarines, the BAP Antofagasta, the BAP Pisagua and the BAP Islay. In its first participation, Colombia deployed the submarine ARC Pijao S-28.
“United States brought the P-8, last generation aircraft,” explained Cap. of Nav. Vildoso “The control that [the plane] has over an area using sonobuoys is impressive. Normally one came, now three have come. For a diver in a certain area, knowing that he has three planes with sonobuoy capacity is a challenge, it is a good training “.
For the Captain of the US Navy. UU Jen Ellinger, commander of the USS Lake Champlain, the exercise with its challenges has been a success. “For me, as commander of a ship of these characteristics, it has been a complex challenge because of the conditions of the Peruvian sea, because of the professionalism of the sailors in maneuvering, in interoperating with other navies, which is the essential objective of SIFOREX: interoperability. ”
The exercises consisted of the familiarization of sounds by both aircraft crews and submarines to identify the different platforms in their environment. The noise coming from the propellers of a helicopter, for example, can lead the crew of a submarine to perform maneuvers for the immersion.
Under the complexity of the underwater environment, submarines take advantage of temperature, salinity, currents and other sea conditions to evade sonobuoys – a sonar system launched by aircraft to detect them. For the NAVSO elements, training is critical as the US Navy. UU it only has nuclear submarines, which are noisier.
“SIFOREX allows US naval resources. UU to carry out antisubmarine warfare training with non-US submarines in foreign waters, ” Fraud Captain Mark Yehl, director of exercises at the NAVSO Project Management, who contributed to the organization of SIFOREX 2018, told Diálogo .” All submarines they are different and each one has unique capabilities and characteristics. This opportunity is a very good training exercise for our crews and also allows us to learn from our friendly countries. ”
Search and evasion
Search and evasion missions were also carried out, in which case the USS Champlain had to follow the tracks of the submarines. Another simulated scenario consisted in the confrontation of submarine against the submarine. The exercise culminated with missile launches and artillery shots.
“Were seven days of navigation clearly oriented to the antisubmarine war,” said Cap. of Nav. Vildoso “The last day has been the firing of artillery against a real target that is a ship that has been decommissioned.”
The participants carried out 99 percent of the planned exercises, that is, more than 50 antisubmarine war exercises, as detailed by Cap. of Nav. Vildoso These allowed the naval forces to take stock of the performance of their crews, their capabilities and learn from each other.
“In the first place, [SIFOREX] is an opportunity to establish lasting professional links with the Navy of Peru and in this case with the [National] Navy of Colombia,” concluded Cap. Yehl. “Secondly, SIFOREX is a great training opportunity for the crews of the US Navy. UU they carry out antisubmarine war against experienced crews of diesel submarines in their own territory, which gives submarines a clear advantage. For the US Navy UU It was an honour and a privilege to be able to participate in SIFORFEX. ”