JFD supports highly successful NATO submarine rescue system aircraft loading exercise with the US Air Force

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JFD supported a very successful Flying Fish exercise, a NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) aircraft loading evolution, with the US Air Force last September.

Held at Royal Air Force Mildenhall in Suffolk, the exercise was conducted to ensure the submarine rescue system equipment can be loaded and transported using the US Air Force’s C5 Super Galaxy aircraft type in the event of a submarine rescue operation.

In an unpredictable world, improving air mobility options for the transportation of submarine intervention and rescue capabilities is critical. Delays in a rescue operation could be catastrophic and it is vital that multiple aircraft types are able to transport the equipment and ensure a timely response to submarine emergencies.

This Flying Fish exercise has significantly improved the options for NSRS air movement because the C5 aircraft is similar in capacity and range to the NSRS’ other prime carrier, the Antonov AN124 aircraft. The AN124 fleet availability had been in some doubt due to the war in Ukraine and therefore proving the C5’s viability as an alternative NSRS carrier was seen by the NSRS participant nations as a very positive enhancement to air mobility of the system.


Gary Lindhofer, Head of Defence Services, JFD, said:

“Success in response to any potential submarine rescue incident is reliant on the timely delivery of equipment and personnel to the incident location.

Access to a range of proven and heavy lift aircraft from multiple sources is essential, and the achievements and learning gained from this exercise are vital towards the combined efforts of the NSRS Participant Nations and United States Navy in assuring the continued safety of its submariners.”


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The NSRS is jointly owned by the UK, France and Norway and maintained by JFD. JFD also provides the pilots and launch and recovery teams. The UK, France and Norway have a Memorandum of Understanding with the US for collaboration and mutual support in response to a Distressed Submarine incident.

The NSRS Air Movement exercises are designed to rehearse the loading of NSRS assets onto suitable heavy lift aircraft, such as the C17, A400M and Antonov AN124. The objective of this exercise was to demonstrate that the equipment, personnel, process, and documentation associated with the air movement of NSRS would work for the US Air Force’s C5 Super Galaxy aircraft. This was the first time that this had been done.

The exercise saw the successful culmination of weeks of planning between JFD and its trusted supply chain of the NSRS Authority, UK Ministry of Defence, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, US Navy and US Air Force.

JFD is a world leader in the submarine rescue domain and has recently been awarded the ‘Third In-Service Support’ contract by the NSRS Authority. JFD will continue to provide operational assurance services to the NSRS, having managed the ‘Second In-Service Support’ contract since 2015.

JFD is an established provider to 80 countries and over 30 navies worldwide and supports multiple submarine rescue systems in service around the globe. Exercises such as Flying Fish further strengthen JFD’s capability and ability to deliver an assured service to the Participant Nations.