FLYING TIGERS READY TO TACKLE THE CORSICAN LION
The Flying Tigers of RNAS Culdrose have arrived in the Mediterranean and are getting ready to take part in a series of major NATO exercises.
As part of the Royal Navy’s COUGAR 15 deployment, the aviators from 814 Naval Air Squadron (also known as the ‘Flying Tigers’) are about to take part in ‘Exercise Corsican Lion’, an exercise to demonstrate the flexibility and reach that amphibious forces can deliver from the sea.
The Culdrose personnel and Merlin helicopters are embarked onboard Amphibious Assault Carrier HMS Ocean as part of its unique ‘Tailored Air Group’, adding a considerable ‘Anti-submarine Warfare’ capability to the ship. The Merlin Mk2 helicopters are also joined by Wildcats from the Commando Helicopter Force, Apache attack helicopters from the Army Air Corps and Chinook helicopters from the RAF.
HMS Ocean is the Royal Navy Fleet Flagship, capable of carrying out support to amphibious landing operations by 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and is designed to maintain a fully manned battle staff headquarters. She has the ability to launch both surface moves with the use of her landing craft and aviation assaults with her embarked aircraft. The ship can deploy a Commando Battle group to a hostile beach or many miles inland if required.
The deployment is set to last three months and will involve exercises with a French amphibious group off the coast ofCorsica. Then the Royal Navy will work with the Americans and other NATO Maritime forces in theEastern Mediterranean.
“This is a great opportunity for many of us to work for the first time with our NATO allies,” said Lieutenant Tim Strickland of 814 Naval Air Squadron. “During the initial part of this deployment, we will be ‘working up’ with the flight deck crews and our engineers on HMS Ocean. Already the 814 Merlins have clocked up nearly 40 flying hours in their first two weeks away from Culdrose.”
The Culdrose based aviators are using the deployment as good experience of working with a variety of aircraft on a busy flight deck, just like they will do when they serve on the new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers in the future. Lieutenant Strickland added: “There’s not much room for all these different types of aircraft, and it’s a matter of sharing the flight deck and hangar, as well as getting to grips with lots of new routines.”
Cougar is the annual deployment of theUK’s high readiness maritime joint expeditionary force aimed at demonstrating the Royal Navy’s ability to keepBritainsafe and improve her economic security by being able to deploy a highly effective maritime force anywhere in the world. Cougar 15 involves a series of demanding exercises with alliance and other partner nations in the Atlantic andMediterranean. The deployment culminates in NATO’s flagship ‘Trident Juncture’ exercise which will include over 36,000 personal from over 30 nations and will ensure the groups readiness for any operations.