A Royal Navy helicopter dropped anti-missile flares on HMS Prince of Wales as part of NATO’s biggest military exercise in decades.
The Merlin helicopter of 820 Naval Air Squadron could be seen firing flares from both sides over the second British aircraft carrier for exercise Steadfast Defender.
The Royal Navy said: ‘Flares are an element of the Defensive Assistance Suite (DAS). The flares constitute a part of the DAS system and are specifically designed to defeat infrared homing missiles (MANPADS).
‘The aircraft carrier participates in exercise Steadfast Defender. Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024 will be the largest NATO exercise in decades.
“NATO forces will exercise in multiple regions and in multiple domains (maritime, land, air, space and cyber).”
He added: “The large scale of this exercise will take place over several months and over thousands of kilometers and will involve tens of thousands of allied troops, all showcasing NATO’s capabilities to deter adversaries and defend allied territory. “.
A Merlin helicopter from 820 Naval Air Squadron loaded and fired flares from HMS Prince of Wales, as it embarked for Exercise Steadfast Defender.
They are seen firing flares from both sides from above the second British aircraft carrier.
NATO was founded in 1949 and held its first military exercises in the fall of 1951. These trained and tested the organization’s newly created multinational military structures.
Throughout the Cold War, NATO continued a very active exercise program to train forces in as many demanding scenarios as possible.
This included the REFORGER series of exercises, which, similar to those involving Steadfast Defender 24, tested the ability of American soldiers to rapidly deploy to Europe.
The last exercise on a similar scale to Steadfast Defender 24 was REFORGER 88, which involved 125,000 people.
Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has increased the number of exercises that focus on collective defense scenarios.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, allies have further strengthened NATO’s deterrence and defense.
Steadfast Defender 24 is NATO’s first large-scale exercise to act on these new defense plans.
Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron said nothing should be excluded as the West sought a strategy to counter Russia, which controls just under a fifth of the territory recognized as Ukraine.
A Merlin helicopter from 820 Naval Air Squadron loaded and fired flares from HMS Prince of Wales, as it embarked for NATO’s Steadfast Defender exercise.
The Merlin helicopter above HMS Prince of Wales. The Royal Navy said: ‘Flares are an element of the Defensive Assistance Suite (DAS). The flares constitute a part of the DAS system and are specifically designed to defeat infrared homing missiles (MANPADS).
He noted that European nations have not ruled out putting troops on the ground.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was among European leaders who rejected the idea.
“What was agreed from the beginning between us and each other also applies to the future, namely that there will be no soldiers on Ukrainian soil sent there by European states or NATO states,” Scholz said.
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden, who is joining NATO after Hungary this week became the latest member to approve the country’s application, poured cold water on the idea, saying it is “not at all at stake at the moment.
In an address to the nation today in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that while accusing Russia of planning to attack NATO allies in Europe, the Western allies were “selecting targets to attack our territory” and “talking about possibility of sending a NATO contingent. to Ukraine”.
“We remember the fate of those who sent their contingents of troops to the territory of our country,” said the Russian leader in apparent allusion to the failed invasions of Napoleon and Hitler. “Now the consequences for potential invaders will be much more tragic.”
Putin stated that the West should keep in mind that “we also have weapons that can attack targets on their territory, and what they are now suggesting and scaring the world with, all of this poses the real threat of a nuclear conflict that will mean the destruction of our civilization”.