Yeovilton Hosts Conference on Rotary Wing Capabilty
Senior Military and Industry personnel attended a two day conference at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton discussing the future MOD Helicopter Strategy and the Defence Rotary Wing Capability study.
Attending the conference to give the key-note address and open the event was Defence Minister, the Right Honourable Peter Luff MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, (Min DEST). He said: “Rotary power is an absolutely critical component of combat power. That’s why the Defence Rotary Wing Capability Study is so important. Taking a long hard look at issues such as basing, force structures, command and control from start to finish. I am confident that the study will help to provide industry with direction and clarity.”
Sponsored by Air Littoral Manoeuvre, ALM and Aerospace Defence Services, ADS (A trade organisation advancing the UK Aerospace, Defence and Security industries.) the opening session was occupied by a series of briefings on the Defence Rotary Wing Capability study. Following the culmination of the first day’s events, conference attendees got together in the evening for a question and answer session chaired by ADS and a formal dinner held in HMS Heron’s Wardroom.
The conference switched between formal briefings by both RNAS Yeovilton and ADS personnel and the ability to view the latest innovations being made available to the MOD and future equipment programmes, which provided the opportunity for industry and military stakeholders to talk through key issues.
Commando Helicopter Forces Combat Support Squadron rolled out their field footprint for the conference, demonstrating how it would deploy into the desert, the jungle or the arctic in support of the Force. This allowed industry representatives the unique opportunity to view the Support Squadron’s equipment close up and speak frankly with its operatives.
Warrant Officer Colin Bauld, from CHF’s Commando Mobile Operations Team (MAOT) commented;
“Our role in CHF is quite varied, the MAOT advise, manage and execute helicopter moves of troops and under slung loads operationally and on exercise. After 6 years experience of operations in Afghanistan the conference provided an ideal opportunity to discuss with both MoD and manufacturers the utility of our equipment and suggestions on improving it.”
Over the next 4 years, CHF will be at the forefront of changes to the UK Rotary Wing Strategy. The Sea King Mk4 is now being drawn down and will be replaced with the Merlin Mk4. Aviators and engineers are currently operating and training at RAF Benson, in Oxfordshire to ensure a smooth and timely transition. 847 Naval Air Squadron will also begin their conversion to the new Agusta Westland AW159 Wildcat in 2013, becoming the first UK unit to operate this new helicopter.
“The event was a great opportunity for the Fleet Air Arm to interact with members of Industry. This kind of interaction allows us to put our concerns direct to Industry so they can put forward the best value for money solutions for Defence.” Said Lieutenant Commander Steve Crockatt, Operations Officer for RNAS Yeovilton.