Junglies Back at Sea
Junglie Sea Kings from the Commando Helicopter Force working alongside Fleet Air Arm Merlin and Airborne Surveillance and Control Sea King (Baggers) helicopters have just completed the first phase of the 'Cougar 12’ Response Force Task Group (RFTG) deployment.
Leaving behind the coast of Cornwall and Plymouth Sound, the RFTG is now sailing South toward Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, where the Royal Navy Warships, Royal Marines Commandos and Naval Airpower, which make up the RFTG, will train alongside French and Albanian maritime forces. CHF Sea Kings from 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons will be providing vital troop lift for the Commandos in addition to an under-slung load capability throughout the deployment.
A Tailored Air Group (TAG) comprising Apache Attack helicopters from the Army’s 656 Sqn, Naval Merlin’s from 814 NAS, Airborne Surveillance and Control Sea Kings from 854 NAS and the Yeovilton based Commando Sea Kings, are embarked on the Helicopter and Commando Carrier HMS Illustrious. RAF Chinooks will also join the force at a later stage of the deployment.
In addition to the helicopters, CHF are also providing command and control through the Joint Helicopter Force Contingency Headquarters, (JHF-C), which has been stood up to provide a unique capability for controlling JHC battlefield helicopter assets at high readiness and earmarked for contingency as part of the RFTG. This forward deployable force headquarters element is working closely with 3 Commando Brigade HQ and the Lead Cdo group, 45 Commando RM.
“The JHF-C is ideally suited to this environment”. Said Major Jon Parry RM; JHF-C Operations Officer. “We’ve deployed this HQ for Ex Cold Response in Norway and Ex Joint Warrior earlier this year and the results have proved that CHF are able to provide the right expertise and aviation support to both 3 Cdo Brigade RM, and 16 Air Assault Brigade across the globe. ”
The Junglies are relishing the opportunity to get back to their primary role supporting Amphibious based Commando Carrier deployments after consecutive Operations in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.
Lieutenant Colonel Del Stafford RM, the Commanding Officer of the JHF-C, is pleased with the way both the CHF and other JHC elements have started the deployment.
“We were able to get all the CHF aircrew through a deck landing training package prior to leaving UK waters and now we are busy planning for the next Phase of the deployment in the Mediterranean. The RFTG is a great vehicle through which to demonstrate the versatility, mobility and interoperability of the RN, and gives us exactly the right environment to refresh our amphibious skills, both onboard shipping, and during the land phases with the French and Albanians”.