The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has deployed its P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to support Nato’s Operation Sea Guardian 2022 in the Mediterranean region.

During this deployment, the P-8A aircraft will undertake missions specifically in the Western and Central Mediterranean regions.

The aircraft will be based in Italy and its operations are expected to continue until the middle of October this year.

With the aircraft’s deployment, Australia is aiming to strengthen its existing partnership with Nato as part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

Australia chief of joint operations lieutenant general Greg Bilton said: “Australia is a Nato Enhanced Opportunities Partner and an important Asia-Pacific member for the Alliance.

“Our partner status recognises Australia’s significant contributions to Nato operations and the value that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has demonstrated over several decades.

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“Our participation in Operation Sea Guardian is an opportunity to extend Australia’s interoperability with the alliance to the maritime air surveillance domain.”

Nato’s Operation Sea Guardian is led by Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), headquartered in Northwood, UK.

Currently underway, Operation Sea Guardian is a non-Article 5 Nato maritime security mission that aims to oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, while protecting the crucial infrastructure.

It also focuses on deterring terrorism, maintain maritime situational awareness and improve capacity building in the Mediterranean region.

Bilton added: “This represents a natural step-up in our ongoing partnership, focused on responding to today’s global security challenges.

“Wherever possible, the ADF supports European security initiatives to uphold the rules based international order.

“I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the deployment, which will guide our future maritime surveillance cooperation with Nato.”