RN Hawk jets visit HMS Gannet
There was a buzz in the air at HMS Gannet recently, as the Royal Navy search and rescue unit at Prestwick played host to some hawk and falcon jets.
The Royal Navy Hawk jets (the same kind of aircraft used by the Red Arrows) from 736 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) are based in Cornwall and were joined by five Cobham Falcons.
736 NAS had recently taken part in Exercise Joint Warrior for two weeks and had made their home at the Ayrshire site.
The aircrew and engineers involved with these two aircraft fleets increased aircrew on site by 100% and engineers by 50% making HMS Gannet a rather busy place to be.
All of this was made possible by investment in resurfacing the area of the airport site between HMS Gannet’s base and the runway itself.
“It has been a great pleasure to see such a busy unit over the last couple of weeks,” said Lieutenant Commander Charlie Fuller, HMS Gannet’s Commanding Officer.
“It’s a long time since we have seen so much traffic through the base and, with the planes coming and going throughout each day, it has been all hands on deck.
“The improvement in the dispersal area should now enable us to use the site more regularly for visiting aircraft.”
The five fast jets left their usual base of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose to take part in Exercise Joint Warrior, a multi-national exercise that involves numerous warships, aircraft, marines and troops.
It brings together all three services and prepares maritime forces for the challenges of real-world activity, from maritime security, counter-piracy to combat operations.
The exercise, held off the coast of Scotland twice a year, provides a complex environment in which UK, NATO and allied units can go through training together in tactics and skills for use in a combined joint task force.
A range of scenarios are tested, including crisis and conflict situations that could be realistically encountered in operations.
The five Hawk jets helped to simulate battles at sea and pretended to launch attacks on the ships through strike missions.
Commanding Officer of 736 Naval Air Squadron Lieutenant Commander Tim Flatman said: “During the exercise we were playing the enemy aggressors, ‘attacking’ the ships and generally causing problems for them.
“We were conducting combined air operations with DA-20 Falcons from Cobham aviation, and alongside many other aircraft from the RAF as well as a host of European Air Forces. It’s a complex but realistic exercise, which provided good training for all the participants as well as 736 NAS.”