Working with foreign fast jets to maintain war fighting skills
To ensure that Aircrew are at the top of their war fighting game in between deployments to the Middle East, the Royal Navy Sea King Force based at RNAS Culdrose, has been working closely with the fast jets of our foreign friends.
We currently have Sea King helicopters getting ready to take part in Exercise Saxon Warrior and work with aircraft in the US carrier group. However, 849 Naval Air Squadron's Palembang Flight recently returned from France where the flight honed their skills by working with a variety of NATO fast jets.
The Culdrose team were able to control Fast Jets from NATO nations in a complex series of scenarios – ranging from air to air battles to anti-ship strikes. It was a demanding challenge for the typically 3-person crew.
Whilst the pilots got to grips with operating from an extremely busy Fast Jet base and within the French airspace rules, the Observers (mission and sensor specialists) helped to coordinate the movements of the jets to accomplish their objective; using the powerful radar and other equipment available in the Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control helicopter.
A typical 2-3 hour mission would effectively start some 24 hours prior to launch, with the Observers involved in the detailed planning necessary for complex missions of this nature, providing invaluable exposure to the very best of what the NATO arsenal has to offer.
Palembang’s Flight Commander, Lt Mark Rose said “This was a great opportunity for us to sharpen our aviation skills in a tactically demanding environment, but it also gave me the opportunity to provide a change of scenery for my aircraft maintenance personnel; I would particularly like to highlight that we have had impeccable serviceability and been on task for every mission in a very busy schedule."
This latest instalment of 849’s drive to place itself at the heart of complex air warfare exercises, forms part of the strategy to train its aircrew in preparation for a return to Carrier Strike operations in the Sea King ASaC replacement, Merlin CROWSNEST, which will operate from the our nation's new aircraft carriers alongside the F35B Lightning II in similar missions to the ones practiced in France.