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NATO forces participate in Italian exercise PHIBEX 2021

According to information published by NATO on April 23, 2021, Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) participated in the Italy-led exercise PHIBEX off the Sardinia coast 12-23 April.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Mendez Nuñez F-104 (Picture source: NATO)

Maritime and air assets from Italy and SNMG2 exercised together in the Central Mediterranean Sea providing an outstanding and not so common opportunity for the Group to train in amphibious operations, enhancing all warfare areas.

The NATO Group brought two surface units to the exercise, ESPS Mendez Nuñez, the flagship and TCG Kemalreis, both fitted with organic helicopters.

During the execution phase, SNMG2 units had the opportunity to focus mainly on amphibious operations, where the Group contributed to maintain sea control and local air superiority in the area of operations and provided force protection and air defence to the amphibious task force.

"This exercise represents an outstanding opportunity to train in littoral waters and amphibious operations. At the same time we continued to maintain the readiness of the Force at its maximum and are ready to be deployed in any type of scenario where SNMG2 could be required to operate,” says Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre, Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.

After completing this exercise, SNMG2 will resume its programme of activities in the Mediterranean Sea, including maritime security awareness in associated support to NATO Operation Sea Guardian, as well as participation in exercises with Allies and partners.

SNMG2 is one of four standing forces that comprise the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). To respond to contingency situations, additional forces can be added to these groups, with the NATO command staff on board and the ships of the Group as the nucleus, capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.

Méndez Núñez (F-104) is an Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate of the Spanish Navy. She is the fourth ship of her class, entering service in 2006.

The Álvaro de Bazán class, also known as the F100 class, is a class of Aegis combat system-equipped air defence frigates in service with the Spanish Navy. The vessels were built by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia in Ferrol, with the lead ship of the class named for Admiral Álvaro de Bazán.

The ships are fitted with the United States Aegis weapons system allowing them to track hundreds of airborne targets simultaneously as part of its air defence network. The Álvaro de Bazán-class multi-role frigates are one of the few non-US warships to carry the Aegis system and its associated SPY-1D radar.

The Álvaro de Bazán-class frigates are the first modern vessels of the Spanish Navy to incorporate ballistic resistant steel in the hull, along with the power plants being mounted on anti-vibration mounts to reduce noise and make them less detectable by submarines.