Royal Naval Air Squadron visits affiliated squadron in Republic of Korea
A small team of personnel from the Royal Navy’s 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), based at RNAS Yeovilton, visited South Korea to develop operating and maintenance procedures for the Lynx aircraft that both nations operate.
815 Squadron, which currently operates the Lynx Mk8 aircraft, hold an affiliation with the Republic of Korea Navy’s 627 Squadron, who use a similar variant of the Lynx helicopter, made by AgustaWestland in Yeovil.
The affiliation, which was established in December 2013 as a way of enhancing interoperability between the two nations’ Navies, is also being used by both Squadrons as an opportunity to review each other’s operating practices to heighten the military capability offered by the versatile Lynx aircraft and strengthen flight safety knowledge.
Whilst 815 have been operating versions of the Lynx helicopter since 1981, the relationship with Korea’s Navy and 627 Squadron has been able to add tangible insight into how the aircraft, and its successor the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat can be operated into the future.
The Commanding Officer of 815 Squadron, Commander Alistair Haigh, commented: “The Republic of Korea Navy is hugely experienced and accomplished operators of the Lynx Maritime Attack Helicopter. Over the years we have evolved slightly differing way of operating this flexible helicopter in different operational situations. It is hugely beneficial for us to now look at these differences and see how the tactics and techniques used by each other can be applied to increase our own capabilities.”
The Republic of Korea Navy have recently purchased 8 AgustaWestland AW159 aircraft, the first of which will be delivered from the UK next year. The visit allowed Engineers and Aircrew to share Lynx-to-Wildcat transition planning knowledge, helping the Koreans to understand steps that the Royal Navy have already taken to train technicians and aircrew to operate the new Aircraft.
Before returning to the UK, the deputation visited the National Korean War Memorial in Seoul, to pay their respects to those from the UK who had fought in the 1950-1953 Korean War. Britain was second only to the United States in the contribution it made to the UN effort in Korea, with 87,000 British troops and sailors taking part in the conflict. Over 1,000 British servicemen lost their lives.
The delegation from 815 Squadron arrived at the Memorial to lay a wreath and the large plaques, containing the names of those who had been killed from the 21UN-nations that participated in the war, were being cleaned and polished by Korean school children.
Lt Ben Dando, 815’s Squadron Warfare Officer said: “It is clear that the war, and the efforts played by the huge numbers of personnel sent to fight here, are still vividly remembered across the country. In particular, the School children cleaning the monument were sincere in expressing their appreciation.”