TOUCH DOWN FOR COMMANDO FLIERS FOLLOWING ARRCADE FUSION
Commando Fliers have returned to base following their first deployment in direct support of Eastern European real life tasking as part of Arrcade Fusion’s annual deployment.
The first Merlin Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) Flight, from 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) to be deployed with NATO has returned to base at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, Somerset.
Self deploying from 846 NAS, D Flight operated on Arrcade Fusion in and around the Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, the furthest deployment in Eastern Europe in recent memory.
Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Alex Hampson, Flight Commander said;
“This deployment has tested D Flights ability to support a real time task at a considerable distance from our main operating base. This ensures that the D Flight personnel are ready to respond to any contingent requirements as they occur, always at five days notice to deploy.
For many of the aircrew and engineers this deployment is 'operations normal', but for some it is the first time that they have deployed and subsequently operated abroad. They have experienced foreign operating procedures, liaised with foreign agencies when conducting their duties and have lived in a large scale battle camp alongside their British Army counterparts and many other partner nations alike.”
The Merlin Mk3 has been under CHF ownership since October 2014. One aircraft in particular, ZJ121 - 'E' has been the linchpin of the 846 'effect' in Latvia and passed its 4000th flying hour last Wednesday as she landed in Poznan, Poland to refuel during the transit back.
Lt Cdr Hampson added;
“This has been a very successful deployment. We have been able to support a deployed NATO Headquarters at a considerable distance from home, over 1000 miles, and has proved the capability of both the Merlin Mk3a and the CHF to support and respond to real life tasking as part of the commitment to contingent operations. It was a privilege flying ZJ121 for her 4000th hour as 846 NAS develop their capability with the Commando Merlin.”