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HMS Illustrious leaving Portsmouth

Navy aircraft head north for major multi-national exercise

Published: 28 Mar 2014

Aircraft from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose are heading north to take part in Europe’s largest naval exercise off the coast of Scotland.  The Merlin helicopters and Hawk jets, usually based in Cornwall, will help to simulate battles at sea and protect Royal Navy ships from enemies under, above and on the surface of the water.

The Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron have embarked HMS Illustrious, the Royal Navy’s Helicopter Commando carrier, which sailed fromPortsmouthyesterday.  Illustrious will join 11 other Royal Navy ships as well as vessels, submarines, aircraft and ground troops from the UK, US, Turkish, German, Belgian, French, Dutch and Danish militaries.  They will be battling each other at sea, in the air and on land in an area which stretches from the Irish Sea, north to Cape Wrath and east to theMoray Firth.  Merlin helicopters from 829 Naval Air Squadron embarked upon HMS Kent and HMS Dauntless are also on their way toScotlandto take part in the exercise.

Called Exercise Joint Warrior, this is a UK-led multinational exercise that will involve over 35 warships, 25 different types of aircraft, and Royal Marines Commandos and soldiers with a combined personnel count of nearly 13,000.  The 12 Royal Navy ships taking part range from amphibious assault ships, destroyers, frigates and Mine Counter Measures Vessels; all of which will use Joint Warrior to prepare for their imminent deployments to the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Middle East.  

The Royal Navy Hawks from 736 Naval Air Squadron, usually based at Culdrose will be flying from RAF Lossiemouth in order to simulate enemy aircraft and missiles.  The Culdrose Merlin helicopters will supply the Royal Navy Task Group with a detailed picture from the skies of enemy movements and positions.  The Culdrose aircraft will be complemented by Royal Navy Lynx, Junglie Sea Kings and RAF Green Merlins and Chinooks. 

Commodore Jerry Kyd, Commander UK Task Group, who will lead the Royal Navy Task Group from sea onboard HMS Bulwark, said: “Joint Warrior is a large, multi-national joint exercise that is an essential vehicle for preparing our Armed Forces for operations around the world.  In my role as the Commander of theUnited Kingdom’s on-call Maritime Task Group, Joint Warrior provides excellent training within a complex political-military scenario.  Alongside forces from the Army and RAF, it prepares maritime forces, including ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel very well for the challenges of real-world activity, from maritime security, counter-piracy to combat operations.”

 “We are also fortunate that this highly regarded exercise attracts a good attendance from many partner Navies from around the world and I am delighted to have the opportunity this year to be leading ships from the Netherlands, France, Denmark, and the United States as we collectively hone our professional skills and fighting capabilities.”

Exercise Joint Warrior provides an excellent training opportunity to test the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) the Navy’s high readiness force, formed under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.  This is a group of Royal Naval ships that are on call to deploy anywhere in the world to deter adversaries, take part in maritime security operations, reassure allies and provide humanitarian disaster relief.


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