UK — Army helicopters embark on Royal Navy flagship for exercise

A detach­ment of Apache attack heli­copters from the Army Air Corps has land­ed onboard the Roy­al Navy’s fleet flag­ship HMS Ark Roy­al to take part in Exer­cise Joint War­rior in Octo­ber 2010.

Apache attack helicopters onboard HMS Ark Royal
Apache attack heli­copters onboard HMS Ark Roy­al
Source: POA(Phot) Ray Jones, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Apach­es are used exten­sive­ly by the Army Air Corps in land oper­a­tions but over the next few weeks they will train to broad­en their sea expe­ri­ence and capa­bil­i­ty with the Roy­al Navy. 

As well as it being a rel­a­tive­ly new expe­ri­ence for the three air­craft and ten pilots, there is also a sup­port crew of 120 engi­neers and main­tain­ers from 4 Reg­i­ment Army Air Corps onboard the Portsmouth-based air­craft carrier. 

Work­ing around the clock to ensure the safe­ty of the air­craft, this will be the first time at sea for many of the soldiers. 

The for­mi­da­ble fire­pow­er and tar­get-track­ing capa­bil­i­ties of the Apache have already been demon­strat­ed to impres­sive effect on the bat­tle­fields of Afghanistan and while onboard HMS Ark Roy­al this Army Air Corps detach­ment will explore how these capa­bil­i­ties can be fur­ther extend­ed by work­ing from a seaborne platform. 

Under Exer­cise Joint War­rior, which will take place off the west coast of Scot­land, the pilots will ini­tial­ly spend time accli­ma­tis­ing to the unique dif­fi­cul­ties which arise when oper­at­ing at sea, per­form­ing deck-land­ings in a vari­ety of conditions. 

Once this process is com­plete, the Apach­es will then take part in sim­u­lat­ed small-scale war­fare, attack­ing land tar­gets in a series of assaults planned, launched and direct­ed by HMS Ark Royal. 

Com­man­der ‘Rocky’ Salmon, Com­man­der Air on HMS Ark Roy­al, said: 

“Being able to oper­ate a diverse range of air­craft from the car­ri­er under­lines our flex­i­bil­i­ty in the joint Ser­vice envi­ron­ment and the Apache brings with it an awe­some capability. 

“The focus of this peri­od will be to ensure that we safe­ly inte­grate 656 Squadron into HMS Ark Roy­al, pro­vide their crews with deck expe­ri­ence, and devel­op tac­ti­cal pro­ce­dures for the future.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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