Showing posts with label Royal Navy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Royal Navy. Show all posts

07 December, 2023

UK's Royal Navy Merlin Mk3s make day-long trip to Gibraltar

Deploying at short notice to locations across the globe is something all Commando Helicopter Force aircraft and personnel must be ready for.

So pilots, aircrew and engineers left their base at RNAS Yeovilton for a day-long journey to Gibraltar via France, Spain and Portugal with two of the green Merlin Mk3 helicopters of 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS).

The Royal Marines flying wing was taking part in Exercise Barbary Commando 16, the aim of which is to train students from the Operational Conversion Flight and complete one of the final elements they need to become qualified Commando Merlin pilots and aircrew.

“This has been yet another first for the Commando Merlin,” said Detachment Commander Lieutenant Commander Alex Hampson.

“We have proved the utility of range and speed available with Merlin by deploying at short notice to an airfield over 1,400 flying miles away with just two stops for fuel in a single day.”

While in Gibraltar, the Junglie squadron also teamed up with the Gibraltar Boat Squadron for some winching training.

HMS Scimitar, her sister ship Sabre and three Pacific Rigid Inflatable Boats crewed by Royal Navy, Royal Marine and Royal Naval Reserve personnel together make up the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron.

23 October, 2023

HMS Prince of Wales’ fully-laden F-35 paves way for future carrier strike ops

Marshalled on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales off the US East Coast, this is an F-35B fully loaded. To the max. Topped out. Maximum effort.

It’s known in naval aviation parlance as ‘beast mode’: every pylon occupied by a weapon, the internal bomb bay bristling. Fully loaded, the F-35B can deliver 22,000lb of destructive and defensive power: air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and conventional and laser-guided bombs.

If you’re struggling to imagine a 22,000lb payload… it’s the equivalent of the heaviest bomb carried by a WW2 Lancaster bomber (the Grand Slam or ‘earthquake’ bomb). And it’s nearly three times more than the UK’s last carrier-borne strike aircraft, the Harrier GR9, over a decade ago. In this instance, the specially-modified F-35B from the US Navy’s Integrated Test Force was loaded with a combination of inert 500lb Paveway IV laser-guided bombs and inert 1,000lb Paveways in the weapons bay.

To date, F-35s have been taking off from the 350ft marker on the deck (roughly in line with the end of the forward island). Depending on a whole host of factors (including weather, wind over the deck, humidity) a fully loaded Lightning might need a full run-up to the ski jump to get airborne… which means starting all the way back at the 850ft marker… not too far from the rear end of the flight deck.

It’s the first time a full run-up has been tested on either carrier. And it’s also the first time bombs (albeit inert, practice models) have been dropped by aircraft launched from HMS Prince of Wales.

Captain of the Flight Deck Warrant Officer 1 John Etherington – who has experience of deck operations on Nimitz-class US carriers – was the sailor giving the ‘go’ to the pilots.

“It was impressive, launching the jet, all bombed up from the back of the flight deck,” he said. “It’s exciting to see us pushing the boundaries of UK naval aviation.” 
At the controls of F-35s in beast mode were US Marine Corps pilots Major Paul Gucwa and Lieutenant Colonel Mike Lippert.

This is the fourth time the latter has worked with the UK’s carrier force – three times helping HMS Queen Elizabeth develop her Lightning capability, now with Prince of Wales.

“It’s a pleasure to see the continued progress in operating capability - there has been undeniable growth and progress,” he said.

“Major Gucwa and I took great pleasure in continuing to expand the warfighting capacity of Britain’s biggest warship. We were a small part of an immense, cross-functional, integrated team which spanned every corner of the ship, the F-35 ITF mission control rooms, and our worldwide F-35 Lightning II partnership – all focused on increasing the interoperability and lethality of our front-line fighter.”

09 October, 2023

‘More plane than helicopter’ – UK Royal Navy pilot flies US Marines’ unique Osprey from HMS Prince of Wales

This is the impressive sight of an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor lifting off at dusk from the deck of Britain’s biggest warship.  And at the controls one Fleet Air Arm pilot – on exchange with the US Marine Corps.

His crew was one of 14 from 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing who qualified to operate from the deck of HMS Prince of Wales – one element of a key theme of the Portsmouth-based warship’s autumn deployment to the USA: interaction and cooperation with our US allies.

The MV-22 Osprey has a similar payload capacity to the Merlin Mk4 used by the Royal Marines – a couple of dozen troops fully kitted out – but can carry them higher, faster (up to 150mph) and further (upwards of 400 miles) into battle.

“The key difference is that the US Marine Corps views the MV-22 as a fixed-wing asset which can land and take off vertically – as opposed to a helicopter that can fly faster and further,” explained the pilot whom we cannot identify for security reasons.

He’s a wealth of front-line experience in Merlin Mk2s and trained Fleet Air Arm pilots of the future at RAF Shawbury and 705 NAS before coming the exchange on the MV-22.

With the Osprey flying 90 per cent of the time in ‘aeroplane mode’, it’s treated and flown as such (the fast jet community had a lot of influence on how it is operated, especially low-level tactics and formation flying).

23 November, 2022

Merlin aircrew ready for front-line action after earning coveted Wings

Nine newly qualified Royal Navy helicopter aircrew were handed their wings at a recent parade – including two from a new training programme in ‘Crowsnest’ airborne surveillance and control. 

The pilots, observers and aircrewmen were handed the winged badges by Commodore Andrew Rose to show they have completed their training to join the navy’s frontline helicopter squadrons.
Family and friends watched with pride at a special parade held in an aircraft hangar of 824 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose.
The new aviators have all trained how to fly and operate the Merlin Mk2 maritime patrol helicopter, spending many months in the classrooms and simulators as well as the squadron’s aircraft.
Two of the observers have come through a new programme to train the next generation in airborne surveillance and control (ASaC).
They will now join 820 Naval Air Squadron, which is dedicated to protecting the navy’s aircraft carriers, to operate the helicopters adapted for ASaC with a radar fitted to their side. Flying high above the carrier strike group, these helicopters will look for airborne dangers ‘over the horizon’.
Meanwhile, the others will now join anti-submarine warfare crews either with 820, or 814 Naval Air Squadron, which operates off frigates and other ships.

Commander Chris Jones, the commanding officer of 824 Naval Air Squadron, said: “I want to congratulate each of these newly qualified aviators on their achievement in reaching this point today. Gaining their wings is a huge step in their careers in the Fleet Air Arm.
“As an ASaC observer myself, I am also immensely pleased to see the progress of our two latest ASaC observers. They are the first to complete a new training programme which includes many hours in our new ASaC Mission Trainer here at Culdrose.
“They now join an elite corps of specialist aviators, and alongside their submarine hunting colleagues, they go to the front line now with the skills needed to fight and win. Our standards here at 824 are absolute and I have some of the best instructors in any military flying unit, so to have passed the course shows an extraordinary degree of dedication and talent.” 
Several of the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 helicopters have been adapted for ASaC through a programme with industry known as Crowsnest.
Alongside one of the squadron’s helicopters at the parade was an iconic World War Two Fairey Swordfish from Navy Wings. 824 Naval Air Squadron includes the Taranto Raid by Swordfish bombers in its list of battle honours.

27 May, 2022

UK Armed Forces aircraft take part in final rehearsal before Queen's Platinum Jubilee Flypast

UK Armed Forces aircraft take part in final rehearsal before Queen's Platinum Jubilee Flypast
Photo RAF / Crown copyright

An amazing airborne spectacle occurred yesterday, 26 May as aircraft from across the UK Armed Forces soared over RAF College Cranwell in a rehearsal for the Platinum Jubilee Flypast over Buckingham Palace on Thursday 2 June 2022.

The Royal Air Force, British Army and Royal Navy were all represented in the 22 aircraft that took to the skies to practice the formations which will form part of the Queen’s Birthday Parade celebrations next week.  The full flypast will see 70 aircraft, including the iconic Red Arrows and historic Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, put on a spectacular show over London.

The formation flew over RAF Cranwell’s iconic College Hall yesterday, which stood in for Buckingham Palace.  The first aircraft of the Flypast flew over College Hall at 13:00BST.  The display was reviewed by Air Commodore Mike Baulkwill, the Combat Air Force Commander for the RAF’s No 1 Group.  Air Commodore Baulkwill was standing in for Air Vice-Marshal Ian Duguid, Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group, who is the Senior Responsible Officer for the Flypast.

Dedication, concentration and supreme skills needed to fly  in the flypast Photo RAF / Crown copyright

Commodore Mike Baulkwill, Combat Air Force Commander, No 1 Group said: "I was reviewing the Flypast from a safety and execution point of view, to make sure the timings, spacings, and the broad structure of the flypast was looking good for next week. It went really well, we’ll have to make some minor adjustments, but the timing was perfect, and the line-up was good."

"We are very proud to be able to show Her Majesty The Queen, our Commander-in-Chief, on this unique occasion for the longest-serving monarch and her 70 year Platinum Jubilee, our capability and present that as a fitting and appropriate tribute for her 70-year reign. It should be a good spectacle for the country, the union, and the Commonwealth."

Squadron Leader Greenhowe
Project Officer for the Flypast

The variety of aircraft that will take part in the flypast will highlight the armed forces' different roles and abilities.   Photo RAF / Crown copyright
Squadron Leader Longland, RAF Puma Pilot said: "The flypast today went really well. We made our time on target over the top of College Hall which was standing in as Buckingham Palace. It has been in preparation for months and requires detailed coordination between all the different aircraft which fly at different speeds. I feel hugely privileged and excited to get to fly over the Palace for The Queen on this momentous occasion."

The flypast on Thursday 2 June 2022 will follow the Queen’s Birthday Parade, known as Trooping The Colour, a major display of military pageantry involving 1,500 officers and soldiers and 250 horses from the British Army’s Household Division on Horse Guards Parade.  The Flypast will take place subject to weather, serviceability, and operational commitments.


Photo RAF / Crown copyright

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Photo RAF / Crown copyright

13 April, 2022

Royal Navy completes largest Arctic defence exercise since the Cold War

Photo Royal Navy / Crown Copyright

More than 3,000 sailors and Royal Marines were deployed deep inside the Arctic Circle – ashore, at sea and in the skies of Norway – to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to safeguarding Europe’s ‘northern flank’ against any aggressor.

They joined more than 27,000 personnel, warships, armour, and air power from more than two dozen NATO allies and partners for Cold Response 2022, the largest military exercise hosted in Norway since the Cold War.

Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Prince of Wales, led the naval fleet, demonstrating her ability to act as NATO command ship – a role she will hold for the rest of 2022.

This was the first time one of the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers has been so far north, with more than 1,000 sailors gaining their first experience of operating in the Arctic region.

Royal Navy sailors pushed the boundaries of what the 65,000-tonne flagship can do, as the crew developed new ways of working and coping with temperatures as low as -30 Celsius.

HMS Prince of Wales commanding officer, Captain Steve Higham,  “As we continue to operate in and around the Arctic with our allies and partners, the sailors on HMS Prince of Wales are continuing to learn the skills, and build the experience that allow the Royal Navy to push the boundaries of UK carrier operations in the cold, harsh environment.”

Photo Royal Navy / Crown Copyright
The ship’s role in the exercise saw her work side-by-side with a breadth of British and Allied air power from F-35B Lightning stealth fighters to the Americans’ unique Osprey MV22 tiltrotor aircraft and Sea Stallion helicopters.

The fortnight-long exercise – on top of several months of preparatory training both in the UK and Arctic – allowed the Royal Navy to demonstrate some of its unique capabilities, from launching commando raids from submarines to operating a fifth-generation aircraft carrier in sub-zero conditions for the first time.

The Royal Marines practised and honed new raiding tactics for stealth missions on the treacherous Norwegian coastline, supported by host nation forces, as well as conducting more regular manoeuvres and drills honed over more than half a century as the UK’s experts in Arctic warfare.

Meanwhile, divers from HMS Grimsby plunged into the icy fjords to neutralise mines and pave the way for task forces to sail through safely.

29 March, 2022

UK delivers NATO supplies and conducts patrols with JEF partners

Ships, aircraft and personnel from six JEF nations resupplied the UK-led NATO Battlegroup in Estonia and conducted freedom of navigation patrols and exercises.

Royal Navy vessels have joined ships, aircraft and personnel from six Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) nations to provide support to NATO and bolster security in the Baltic Sea.

HMS Northumberland and sister ship HMS Richmond joined Danish frigate HDMS Niels Juel and warships from Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for maritime patrols in the strategically important region.

JEF naval vessels escorted Danish and British supply ships as they delivered military vehicles and equipment to resupply the UK-led NATO Battlegroup in Estonia, where troops from the UK and Denmark are serving side by side. The UK recently doubled the number of troops in Estonia as part of wider NATO efforts to strengthen its eastern defences following Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

As well as patrolling and delivering the vital supplies, the warships and aircraft conducted a series of joint exercises to demonstrate and hone their seamless interoperability. Danish F-16s and Swedish Gripen fighter jets rehearsed air defence tactics with the vessels, while one of the UK’s new RAF Poseidon P8A submarine hunter aircraft practiced working with the ships to spot enemy vessels.

Major General Jim Morris DSO, the Commander of the UK Standing Joint Force HQ (SJFHQ) which leads the JEF, said: “Activities such as these in the Baltic Sea are routine business for us and our JEF partners, in one of our principal areas of geographical interest.

“Given the current level of aggression being displayed by Russia, there has never been a more important time to ensure that freedom of navigation is maintained in the Baltic Sea.”

This region is of vital strategic importance as we seek to ensure stability and freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea.

The JEF is a UK-led force, comprising 10 nations working together to deliver forces at high readiness, across a range of roles, complementing NATO and European security. The coalition focuses on security in the Baltic Sea region, the High North and the North Atlantic, where its members are located.

In March, the Prime Minister hosted JEF leaders in London for the first-ever leader-level summit. At the leaders’ summit, JEF members committed to supporting Ukraine with defensive military aid and ensuring that JEF continued to play a credible role in contributing to defence and deterrence in the region. The meeting followed meetings of Defence Ministers and Chiefs of Defence in February.

The coalition is complementary to NATO’s wider strategic posture which originated from the 2014 NATO summit in Wales. Led by the UK as framework nation, it is agile and responsive, acting flexibly either in smaller groupings or as ten nations communicating with one voice.

Rear Admiral Torben Mikkelson, Chief of the Royal Danish Navy, said: “The current situation calls for increased focus on security of the Baltic Sea and stability of our region. The Danish Navy will, with our partners in the JEF alliance, do our utmost to contribute to that.”

A busy schedule of activity over the coming months and years will see the JEF operating across its core areas of the North Atlantic, High North and Baltic Sea Region, with a particular focus on the upcoming Command Post Exercise Joint Protector later in 2022, followed by the Live Exercise JEF Warrior in 2023.

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28 June, 2021

Airbus to provide satellite-based maritime surveillance services for the UK Royal Navy

Airbus get a contract extension from the UK's Royal Navy for the continued provision of satellite-based maritime surveillance services for the Joint Maritime Security Centre (JMSC).

The contract follows the successful completion of a proof of concept phase, and will ensure the continued monitoring of areas of interest in UK waters and ultimately protect UK sovereign borders from suspicious vessel activity. Using optical and radar imaging as well as AIS (Automatic Identification System) data, Airbus will provide reports about vessels within the UK Exclusive Economic Zone, as well as information that will help in the prevention of potentially illegal activities.

JMSC, which is the UK government’s centre of excellence for maritime security, required a series of services that would provide intelligence to augment their own surveillance activities. Under the agreement, JMSC will benefit from a large range of Airbus’ surveillance and analytics capabilities.

The contract includes: Vessel Detection Reports using SAR data analysis, either delivered in emergency mode for urgently required satellite tasking to monitor suspicious vessels of interest across the globe or on a twice-daily basis for general vessel identification as well as the classification of ‘dark’ vessels in key areas of interest. In addition, the Defence Site Monitoring service, using automated algorithms applied to optical imagery, for the detection, recognition and identification of vessels will detail the evolution of port activity and raise alerts whenever abnormal activity occurs.

The Airbus surveillance services will give JMSC a greater understanding of the various activities across UK waters, especially with a focus on potentially uncooperative vessels, helping to better address security challenges and allowing resources to be rapidly deployed to intercept. 

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28 May, 2021

RAF Lightnings from HMS Queen Elizabeth deployed on Exercise Atlantic Trident

RAF F-35B fighters from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth have been flying in a major international air exercise for the first time since the Carrier Strike Group sailed from the UK on its seven-month-long deployment.

The eight aircraft from 617 (Dambusters) Squadron flew with and against crews from France and the U.S. in simulated combat off the South West French coast.  The International Exercise called 'Atlantic Trident' is aimed at increasing understanding and the ability to fly and operate together.

Supporting the exercise was the RAF’s 101 Squadron flying Voyager tankers refuelling not only UK F-35Bs but those flown by the U.S. Marines, Rafale Jets from France and RAF Typhoons operating from RAF Coningsby.

24 May, 2021

Iconic Osprey aircraft operates with RFA Mounts Bay in historic first

Amphibious ship RFA Mounts Bay has become the first Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel to operate with the US military’s unique Osprey ‘tiltrotor’ aircraft during missions off the Scottish coastline.

The MV22 Osprey from the US 7th Special Operations Squadron based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk landed on Mounts Bay while she took part in the Littoral Strike Group (North) deployment.

The iconic warbird takes off and lands just like a helicopter, then rotates its propellers to fly like a conventional aircraft.

RFA sailors worked with personnel from 1700 and 847 Naval Air Squadron to land the Osprey, which was providing air support to Royal Marines from 45 Commando during amphibious exercises. 

Flight Deck Officer Mick Burton RFA was delighted to make his own little bit of history in landing the aircraft on deck, supported by Officer of the Watch 3/O(X) Chris Hancock and Cadet Jack Davies who were responsible for ensuring the ship safely operated the aircraft from the bridge.

30 April, 2021

Merlin helicopters arrive on HMS Queen Elizabeth.....

Navy helicopters designed for surveillance and submarine hunting operations have arrived on HMS Queen Elizabeth as they prepare to be the carrier’s airborne guardians during her landmark maiden deployment.

Specialist Merlin Mk2 Crowsnest helicopters – which scour the skies with powerful radar looking for potential adversaries – are now on board the 65,000 tonne carrier along with fellow Merlins equipped for anti-submarine warfare.

The Crowsnest Merlins are responsible for airborne surveillance and control (known as ASaC) and will fly up to a mile and a half above the carrier group to look over the horizon for possible threats, while the sub hunters monitor activity beneath the waves.

Joining the carrier along with the helicopters are 190 men and women - the aircrew and engineers of 820 Naval Air Squadron - who will keep the aircraft flying for the duration of the deployment.

Commander Ian Varley, the commanding officer of 820 Naval Air Squadron, said: “This is a proud moment today. A tremendous amount of work has gone into getting us ready for this.

“Airborne surveillance and control is a new capability inserted into the existing Merlin Mk2 helicopter fleet. We are now embarking that in the carrier strike group, so we can have constant surveillance of the sea and airspace around the ships. This will protect the carrier and her escorts from any potential threat, be that missiles, aircraft or other warships.

UK's RAF and Royal Navy work together for to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to Tristan da Cunha

RAF personnel deliver the vaccines to HMS Forth within minutes of landing in the Falklands Photo MoD

The Royal Navy delivered vaccines to one of the most remote community in the world after a race against time in the South Atlantic.

HMS Forth landed doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine on Tristan da Cunha after a 2,500-mile journey from the Falklands to beat winter storms.

With no airport and no ships able to offload on the island during the austral winter, the 200-plus inhabitants of the British Overseas Territory are cut off from the world for months on end.

Forth, crewed by Portsmouth-based sailors and the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the Falklands, acted as the last ‘baton carrier’ in a 10,000-mile race to get the vaccine to islanders.

The Royal Air Force delivered the vaccine from RAF Brize Norton to Mount Pleasant in the Falklands.

Within an hour, the tiny phials were safely stored in Forth’s sickbay and the ship was leaving her base to sail across the ocean.

28 April, 2021

Royal Navy helicopter crews get ready for carrier deployment

Torpedoes raced through Falmouth Bay as the helicopter crews stepped up training to protect the Navy’s most important deployment in a generation.

Aircrew from 820 Naval Air Squadron made the short flight from their base at Culdrose to the nearby bay to launch dummy versions of Sting Ray, the RN’s mainstay lightweight torpedo for the past three decades and more.

It’s carried by Merlins and Wildcats, plus Type 23 frigates such as HMS Kent and Richmond… not just to arm their helicopters, but also to launch from tubes built into the superstructure.

As the principal submarine hunter, Merlin carriers depth charges or four Sting Rays – although the latter will be replaced by a new 21st-Century lightweight torpedo announced in the recent Defence Review.

25 March, 2021

The first of the Royal Navy’s new ‘eyes in the sky’ has entered service – getting ready to protect the nation’s flagship.

Photo Royal Navy 

The first of the Royal Navy’s new ‘eyes in the sky’ has entered service – getting ready to protect the nation’s flagship.

The first Merlin ‘Crowsnest’ helicopter – which scours the heavens with its radar looking for potential foes – will now begin operational training, ahead of the maiden deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth this spring.

The distinctive-looking helicopter – a large radar dome or ‘bag’ sticks out from the fuselage, earning the aircraft the affectionate nickname of ‘baggers’ – will provide airborne surveillance and the control of other aircraft (known as ASaC) in the carrier’s strike group. 

The new generation of ‘baggers’ pick up the mantle of the Navy’s veteran Sea Kings of 849 Naval Air Squadron (now retired) – and like their predecessors will be based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, which also provides anti-submarine Merlin aircraft to protect the Fleet.

21 January, 2021

The United States has committed air and naval power, plus sailors and marines to the UK’s premier military deployment of 2021.

The United States has committed air and naval power, plus sailors and marines to the UK’s premier military deployment of 2021.

US Marine Corps F-35 Lightning jets – identical to those flown and maintained by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – will join HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden deployment. 

Also joining the carrier when she leaves Portsmouth later this year is the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS The Sullivans as both a shield (defence against air and submarine attack) and spear (among other firepower, Tomahawk cruise missiles).

She will be one vessel in the ring of steel around the 65,000-tonne Royal Navy flagship; the full composition of Carrier Strike Group 21 will be announced before the force sets sail. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and US Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller put their signatures to a UK-US Joint Declaration for the Carrier Strike Group 2021 deployment committing the US Navy to taking part in the deployment, which is due to take the carrier group to the Asia-Pacific region. 

“This joint declaration paves the way for the US Navy and Marine Corps to be joining the HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group this year for the inaugural Carrier Strike 21 deployment,” Mr Wallace said. 

“I am delighted that the UK now possesses a 21st-Century carrier strike capability, which has been greatly assisted by the unswerving support and cooperation of the United States at all levels over the past decade. 

“This deployment embodies the strength of our bilateral ties and reflects the depth and breadth of this vital defence and security partnership.” 

As the US Marine Corps and the UK operate the identical ‘B’ variant of the F-35 (short take-off/vertical landing), it means both nations’ jets can operate seamlessly off their ally’s flight decks – as Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211) did aboard Queen Elizabeth off Scotland last autumn. 

Also taking part in those exercises was The Sullivans, which takes her unusual name from the five brothers lost when their ship went down in World War 2; their fate has been honoured with two warships in their name, and it also inspired the Oscar-winning movie Saving Private Ryan.

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26 December, 2020

Helicopter operations return to Devonport naval base after a ten-year gap.

A Dauphin helicopter has landed in Devonport Naval Base – as helicopter operations return after a ten-year gap.

The old helipad at Weston Mill made way for the revamp of the area to make way for RM Tamar and the centre of amphibious excellence.

Since then regular helicopter flights have been diverted to a small facility across the Tamar at HMS Raleigh.

The pad is principally used by personnel from Fleet Operational Sea Training, flown to and from ships undergoing training and assessment off the coast of Plymouth – which has meant a journey of about an hour from Devonport to Torpoint, rather than five to ten minutes to FOST headquarters in HMS Drake.

The result at Bull Point – beyond the mock village used for disaster relief training – is a new multi-million pound, Helicopter Operating Facility.

The facility features a meteorological observation station and provision to refuel visiting helicopters. As well as Dauphins of the Fleet Helicopter Support Unit, based at Newquay, the new pad can host Merlin and Wildcat Helicopters.

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23 November, 2020

Royal Navy helicopters have flown vital reconnaissance missions over devastated Honduras

Royal Navy helicopters have flown vital reconnaissance missions over devastated Honduras as relief operations continue in the wake of Hurricane Eta and Iota.

Severe flooding and landslides following the two catastrophic storms have left millions of Hondurans displaced and isolated without food and clean water.

The Royal Navy recently deployed RFA Argus to the northeast coast of the Central American nation to support the United States military in the ongoing disaster relief efforts.

The support ship is being used as a ‘lily pad’ by US Army Chinooks to drop aid supplies ashore, while the embarked air group of three Merlin helicopters and a Wildcat have been flying crucial information-gathering sorties over ravaged areas.

06 November, 2020

The Royal Air Force concludes its largest exercise in a decade

The Royal Air Force concludes its largest exercise in a decade

image shows RAF Regiment personnel on the exercise next to a Chinook helicopter.
Exercise Crimson Warrior was the largest and most complex exercise the RAF has run in recent years.

The largest military exercise to be run by the Royal Air Force in the UK for many years has finished after three weeks of complex air activities.

The Exercise, called Exercise Crimson Warrior, involved personnel and aircraft from the Royal Air Force as well as the Royal Navy, British Army, United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force. Fast jets, multi-engine aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Air Systems operated from Stations across the country.

Image shows RAF F-35 Lightning aircraft flying above clouds.
F-35B Lightning from 617 Squadron.

Exercise Crimson Warrior is a development of the regular Cobra Warrior exercises with the addition of missions to support the work up of F-35B Lightnings and helicopters that will form the Carrier Strike Group Air Wing during next year’s operational deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

24 September, 2020

HMS Queen Elizabeth has embarked the largest number of warplanes ever onto her deck as she prepares to take her place at the heart of a UK-led NATO Carrier Strike Group.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has embarked the largest number of warplanes ever onto her deck as she prepares to take her place at the heart of a UK-led NATO Carrier Strike Group.
Photo Royal Navy / Crown copyright

Two squadrons of F-35B stealth jets, the RAF’s 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) and the US Marines Corps VMFA-211 (The Wake Island Avengers), have joined the 65,000-tonne carrier as she sails for exercises with allies in the North Sea.

With a total of 14 jets and eight Merlin helicopters, it’s the largest concentration of fighter jets to operate at sea from a Royal Navy carrier since HMS Hermes in 1983, and the largest air group of fifth-generation fighters at sea anywhere in the world. 

12 September, 2020

Naval aviators from the UK's Royal Navy are grappling with 50 fighters and bombers over the North Sea........

Photo  Royal Navy

Royal Navy aviators are grappling with 50 fighters and bombers over the North Sea to practice and hone combat skills before joining HMS Queen Elizabeth for autumn exercises.

Sea to hone combat skills before joining HMS Queen Elizabeth for autumn exercises.

Eighty years since the Battle of Britain reached its climax in UK skies, British, the US and Dutch jets have ‘joined battle’ for the latest Point Blank exercise.

British, American and Dutch F-35 stealth fighters shared airspace with RAF Typhoons, US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagles, F-16s and even mighty B-52 bombers, while RAF Voyagers and American KC-135 Stratotankers kept fuel tanks topped up to allow the dogfights to continue.
Photo  Royal Navy