FRESH BATTLE OF JUTLAND HELPS NEW LYNX CREWS PREPARE FOR FRONT-LINE DUTIES
WAR by land, sea and air tested Lynx helicopter crews of tomorrow to the limit as they decamped to Denmark for a week.
Four helicopters, 16 crew and 72 engineers hopped 1,000 miles from their base at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton across north-west Europe to Jutland for the final stage of their training.
The crews of 815 Naval Air Squadron received their Wings at the end of January – the last Lynx fliers to do so as the helicopter is withdrawn from service and replaced by the new Wildcat.
Before they deploy on front-line service, operating from the decks of Royal Navy frigates and destroyers around the world, they head overseas for a chance to learn how to fly in foreign airspace.
The air base at Karup in central Jutland is home to the Danish Lynx force. After dropping in on them, the helicopters flew south to the ranges for some air-to-ground shooting action with the .5 calibre heavy machine-gun with the Danish Army.
Then it was out over the sea to practice anti-surface warfare skills – for dealing with enemy vessels the Lynx carries the Sea Skua anti-ship missiles – at night, in unfamiliar waters.
The helicopters’ quarry was the small Danish patrol boat HDMS Nymfen – roughly half the size of the Royal Navy’s River-class vessels – and having come under repeated attack, its crew graciously allowed the fliers to practise winching on to the ship’s small forecastle and quarterdeck.
Having played with the Danish Navy and Army, the Danish Air Force wanted to show their version of Scandinavian hospitality – sending up F16 Falcons to hunt down the visitors in a game of aerial cat and mouse.
The Falcon can reach speeds of over 900mph at low level and Mach 2 at higher altitudes. The Lynx brings its aerial agility to proceedings.
“There was some excellent training for both sides which made it an extremely worthwhile exercise – there was no final score but a draw would seem fair,” said Commander (Cdr) Al Haigh, 815’s Commanding Officer.
The week ended with a bang. Two bangs, in fact as the Lynx crews were invited to watch the Danes firing Harpoon missiles from their Niels Juel and HDMS Peter Willemoes, qualify for deck landings, and meet Denmark’s defence minister Nicolai Wammen.
The last act was to get home safely: the ground crews returned courtesy of an RAF Hercules, the Lynx with a little more navigational training.
Cdr Haigh had nothing but praise for his hosts during the week in Jutland: “The flexibility of the Danish Army, Navy and Air Force throughout the week allowed the detachment almost unprecedented opportunities.
“A huge thank you goes to them for their work.”