Hawks leave Culdrose for Ex Cougar
Two Naval Air Squadrons from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose have joined thousands of Royal Navy, Royal Marine and Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel for an annual exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean.The Squadrons, 736 NAS flying Hawk jets and 820 NAS with their Merlin Mk 2s are set to take part in Exercise Albanian Lion, training alongside Royal Marines and Albanian Special forces in an operation that will culminate in Amphibious landings by helicopter and landing craft in the South country.
This year also marks the first deployment for 736 NAS onto Ex Albanian Lion. Three fast jets and their support crews from the Royal Navy’s Aggressor Squadron have headed for the Adriatic and will be setting up in Tirana Air Force Base, ready for their dual roles.
“We’re playing the enemy aggressors during the initial phases of the exercise, attacking shipping and causing problems for the RFTG Response Force Task Group (RFTG). Then we switch over and will be providing Close Air Support (CAS) for the Tactical Air Control Party’s (TACPs) with 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and the Albanian forces on the ground”, said Lieutenant Commander Tim Flatman, CO of 736 NAS. “Everyone is excited about this deployment, particularly the Albanians who retired their fast jets after the Cold War. We’ve worked closely with 3 Cdo Bde in the past, supporting these Cougar deployments and it’s something we are keen to be part of in the future.”