Iron Duke's embarked Lynx in good hands
HMS Iron Duke’s embarked Lynx Aircraft – 404 – also known as ‘Duchess’ receives the regular TLC she needs to keep her flying during busy periods at sea and alongside.
The work never ends for the Type 23’s Fleet Air Arm contingent embarked for HMS Iron Duke’s 6 month deployment away from the UK.
Although she’s not the youngest aircraft in the Fleet, she keeps on flying thanks to the effort put in by the 10 strong team on board, this includes Lt Keith Attwood, the Flight Commander and Pilot.
He said: “The challenges of flying in the South Atlantic are starkly different to UK operations, there is no diversion; your only option is to come back to the Ship.
"My team of maintainers work in all conditions to ensure that we can provide aviation cover for any eventuality, the harsh environment really punishes the aircraft and it is only down to their tireless efforts that she remains airworthy.”
The Portsmouth based warship has been away from the UK for 4 months and the reliance on the aircraft is much the same regardless of where in the world she is – more so when far out at sea should an emergency occur.
As well as the war-fighting role of the aircraft, other uses include stores transfers, humanitarian recce missions, spotting for Naval Gunfire and of course medical emergencies.
It is probably this latter role which keeps the aircrew on their toes, for whilst it is a rare occurrence, it is one which will come without warning and is why the aircraft must always be ready to fly at short notice.
When they are not embarked in HMS Iron Duke the team which look after ‘Duchess’ are based at 815 Sqn, RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron) in Somerset.
One of Europe’s largest air bases, the Air Station provides Royal Navy ships with all the Lynx aircraft.
HMS Heron has now also become the home to the Royal Navy’s new Wildcat helicopter, a brand new aircraft which will replace the Mk 8 Lynx currently in service in the fleet.
HMS Iron Duke was the first to conduct sea trials with Wildcat in 2012, just prior to entering her maintenance period.