Thursday, September 30, 2010

Army all at sea on HMS Ark Royal

A detachment of Apache attack helicopters have landed on board the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship HMS Ark Royal to take part in Exercise Joint Warrior in October.

28 September 2010 -- An unusual sight – 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 on board 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 capability of the Apache has already been demonstrated to impressive effect on the battlefields of Afghanistan and while on board HMS Ark Royal, this AAC detachment will explore how these capabilities can be further extended by working from a seaborne platform.

Under Exercise joint Warrior, which is 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 completed, the Apaches will 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 of 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.”


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