Operation Gateway

21 Feb 1982

The crew of a RAAF P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft from No 10 Squadron commenced the first ‘prosecution’ of a Soviet Echo II class submarine transiting from the South China Sea through the Straits of Malacca to the Indian Ocean. Over the next five days Orion crews used radar and sonobuoys to detect, identify and track the submarine. The episode was the first of many conducted under Operation Gateway during the Cold War. In response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Detachment A of No 92 Wing (comprising up to three Orions with support staff) was stationed at Butterworth, Malaysia, from February 1981. The detachment began the regular monitoring of Soviet ships and submarines passing through the region, before moving into the more aggressive prosecution phase a year later. These patrols ended with the Cold War in 1989, whereupon Operation Gateway focused on maritime security.

Related aircraft

  • Orion