28 November, 2022

617 Squadron jets and personnel aboard HMS Elizabeth visit Oslo

Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning jets and personnel from RAF Marham that are currently embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth have visited the Norwegian capital of Oslo, as part of Operation Achillean.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is leading the UK’s Carrier Strike Group which has arrived in Oslo. Whilst alongside, the ship will host several defence engagement activities in Norway, which is an important strategic ally both bilaterally and within NATO for the UK.

Operation Achillean is a proof of concept deployment to demonstrate NATO's 5th generation maritime strike capability, comprising of F-35 jets supported by Merlin, and Wildcat helicopters.  All elements of Operation Achillean complement NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force activity, as the UK underscores its commitment to safeguarding European security.

In addition to the personnel from 617 Squadron, other RAF personnel have been embarked. Flight Lieutenant Pollard is currently serving as the Carrier Strike Group Air Battle Manager, "This was my first time in a truly tri-service environment, so it has been a period of new experiences and learning.

As an Air Battle Manager, it is my responsibility to coordinate activity in the airspace around the Task Group, including flying Royal Marines ashore, naval gunfire from our frigates and destroyers, and F-35B sorties from HMS Queen Elizabeth. To do all this safely and effectively takes a lot of teamwork, and the Royal Navy personnel on board have certainly made me feel a part of that very close-knit team.

For me, the first time I looked out from the aft island and saw the Task Group assembled around HMS Queen Elizabeth, with F-35s taking off from the deck and Merlins patrolling ahead of us, that was the moment I realised I was part of something special."

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, Carrier Strike Group, is being commanded by Commodore Angus Essenhigh OBE Royal Navy and his staff who are embarked aboard the aircraft carrier.

The deployment builds on vital UK Defence activity in the High North, deepening co-operation between, British and Norwegian air assets especially centred on RAF and Norwegian P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and F-35 fighters.