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Wildcat leaps up
WE’VE already had the maiden voyage of HMS Astute (see
pages 20-21).
Now Naval aviators have something to celebrate: the fi rst
fl ight of the next-generation Lynx.
The prototype AW159 – known in Fleet Air Arm circles as
the Lynx Wildcat – took to the skies of Somerset with Agusta
Westland’s chief test pilot, Donald Maclaine, at the controls.
He lifted off from the Yeovil fi rm’s factory and conducted a
series of general handling checks during the inaugural fl ight
before bringing the helicopter safely back down to earth.
“This is without doubt a very important milestone. This date
was set at contract award in June 2006 and it is to Agusta
Westland and the Lynx project team’s credit to have delivered it
on time,” said Stewart Deakin, Wildcat programme manager for
Picture: LA(Phot) Jenny Lodge, RNAS Culdrose
Defence Equipment & Support.
The Lynx – and more recently Super Lynx – has provided key
aerial support to the RN’s frigate and destroyer Fleet for the
past three decades.
The successor, known as Future Lynx (or simply ‘Flynx’)
until it was offi cially renamed earlier this year, takes the best
bits of the existing aircraft and adapts them for 21st-Century
Those tweaks include new engines, a hi-tech control panel
Airs and aces
for the pilot and observer, a nose-mounted infra-red/TV camera
with laser designator for targeting, active array radar, defensive
aids suite, and a choice of weaponry from machine-guns and
FORMED up in their
says the Cottesmore-based
depth charges to torpedoes and anti-surface missiles.
Whitehall has ordered 62 Wildcats from Agusta Westland: 34
hangar at RNAS Culdrose,
offi cer’s citation.
for the Army Air Corps, 28 for the RN.
members of 854 Naval
“Because of a combination of
leading the new generation of Navy
There will be little difference between the Army and Fleet Air Air Squadron prepare to pilots, unquestionably delivering
Arm versions of the helicopter so that they can quickly switch
receive their operational
on operations, maintaining morale
roles if necessary. and setting a superb example for
The Wildcat is slightly slower than its predecessor (a top
medals after a ground-
future aviators, Lt Rawlins is the
speed of 184mph rather than 200mph), but its more powerful
breaking tour of duty in
thoroughly-deserved fi rst recipient
engines means it can carry a heavier load and it has one third Afghanistan. of the Cobham Trophy.”
again as much range. The Bagger air and ground As for the nickname, “he’s one
The fi rst aircraft will be handed over to the MOD for evaluation crews are among a host of aviators of the scruffi est offi cers around,”
in 2011, with the Army version entering service in 2014 and the honoured for their commitment in says a colleague. “Thankfully, he’s
naval variant the following year. Afghan skies – and beyond – this a good pilot.”
700W (W for Wildcat) Naval Air Squadron stood up at past month. And lest it be thought that
Yeovilton, home of the RN Lynx force, last May to prepare for 854 led the inaugural the fast jet jockeys receive all the
the new helicopter’s arrival. deployment of Sea King Mk7s plaudits, the ship’s fl ight of HMS
Picture: Agusta Westland – the Airborne Surveillance and Portland were singled out for
Control version of the trusty their efforts – 12 months after the
helicopter – to Camp Bastion in event.
the spring. A busy operational schedule
The Baggers – so named because (including seven months chasing
of the distinctive ‘sack’ containing pirates) meant the air and ground
the Searchwater 2000 radar, key crew of 206 Flight, 815 NAS,
to the ASaC’s role – carried out couldn’t collect the Wigley Trophy
intelligence-gathering missions, immediately.
particularly outside the ‘green Portland and the Lynx fl ight
zone’ which is the focal point of passed through FOST in the
● Steve Fitz-Gerald, Division President, Cobham Aviation Services,
Allied operations in Helmand.
presents the inaugural Cobham Trophy to Harrier pilot Lt Simon
autumn of 2008 then headed east
That involved finding and
Rawlins Picture: LA(Phot) Pete Smith, FRPU East
of Suez.
tracking enemy supply routes, The frigate received glowing
providing ‘top cover’ for Allied Talking of operations in sorties in support of Allied ground testimonials from the FOST team
re-supply columns and searching Afghanistan... forces. (who don’t praise lightly…) while
for Improvised Explosive Devices – Harrier pilot Lt Simon Rawlins To that end, he dropped 20 the fl ight, said Rear Admiral Chris
the weapon which has inflicted is the fi rst recipient of the 1,000lb Paveway II, 500lb Snow, Flag Offi cer Sea Training,
so many fatalities on British CoCobham Trophy – named Paveway IV and 540lb lb “got it r“g ight”.
troops in Afghanistan. aafter afte viation pioneer Alan free-fall bombs and nd The Wigley Trophy is
The squadron’s CCobham and aob warded by the emptied six CRV7 rocket ket presented in honour of Capt pre
operations resulted fi rm he founded. pods (each pod contains s A N A Wigley, Captain of
in the detention of The award was 19 missiles) at Taleban HMS Osprey, who was
enemy combatants, introduced to celebrate targets. He received killed in December 1984
the destruction of the 100th birthday of a commendation for when a Wessex crashed
weapons and narcotics Naval aviation and his “decisive, skilful; into the breakwater of
and recovery of enemy will be presented and life-saving close Portland Harbour.
money and equipment. annually to the fi xed- air support” for Allied The trophy which
First Sea Lord Admiral wing naval pilot who has troops. bears his name is awarded
Sir Mark Stanhope was ccontributed the most to the Lt Rawlins was also o to the best flto ight of a ship
guest of honour at the development or delivery of the qualifi ed weapons passing through FOST, whose
ceremony in Culdrose when the maritime aviation. instrin uctor introducing the experts judge not just the aviation
campaign medals were presented And in the case of f Paveway IV to front-line skill of the fl ight, but also their
in front of the friends and family the fi rst winner of the use in theatre. ability to bond with the rest of the
of 854’s personnel. Cobham Trophy, a And if that wasn’t ship’s company.
In his address, the admiral said: harrier falcon coming enough, on the ground Rear Admiral Snow presented
“What these helicopters can do in to land mounted on he was very often the the award to Flight Commander
is see a long way, a very long a base of HMS Victory public face of the Naval Lt Cdr Joe Dransfi eld, who
way, in great detail and then oak, he’s contributed a Strike Wing, hosting VIPs accepted the trophy on behalf of
pass that information on, quickly hell of a lot, not merely and media and explaining a his colleagues, before discussing
and accurately. Their ability to to the FAA, but also to his the work of RN fl iers in Portland’s impending return to
do that is better-developed than country during seven years in Afghanistan. FOST with the ship’s company.
anyone else’s, and is the best in the Harrier world. “His enthusiasm and sense of Once she’s completed her
the world.” In fi ve tours of duty in humour has also been invaluable, second spell of Operational Sea
854’s mission in Helmand is Afghanistan, Lt Simon ‘Scran Bag’ particularly for the younger team, Training in 18 months, the Type
continued by its sister Bagger (yes, it says that in his citation) during the various ups and downs 23 is due to head off on a seven-
squadron, 857. Rawlins fl ew 193 operational of a challenging environment,” month deployment.
Win your own Sea King
THIS is a model Sea King
painted in its original 1969
livery – and it can be yours
thanks to those nice folk at
is celebrated
The toy and model
in miniature form
manufacturer is producing
by a Westland Wessex
a series of die-cast replicas
HU5 of 845 NAS with HMS
to celebrate the centenary of
Bulwark in 1969.
Naval aviation.
From the same year, there’s
The range begins with a 1917
the Sea King HAS Mk1 (still fl ying
Sopwith Camel as fl own by
– you may have seen it out and
WW1 Royal Naval Air Service
about during 100th birthday
ace Flt Lt Norman MacGregor.
events), and more recently
A generation later, S/Lt
there’s a model Sea Harrier
Dickie Cork of 808 NAS fl ew
FRS1 from 801 NAS during
Hawker Hurricanes in the
the Falklands War and we’re
Battle of Britain, downing fi ve
bang up to date with a Lynx
German aircraft.
MK8 as embarked in HMS
WW2 naval aviation is
Manchester in 2008.
also represented by a Fairey
You can fi nd out more about
Swordfi sh of 836 NAS which
the range at www.corgi.
served on the merchant
aircraft carrier HMS Rapana,
Name the Royal Naval Air
Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson,
and a Corsair Mk2 of 1842
Station near Helston where the
PO1 3HH or e-mail corgi@
NAS which attacked the Tirpitz
Or you can have a crack
1969 Sea King is based.
in 1944.
at winning the £47 model by
Send your answer to Corgi
Entries must be received by
The post-war Fleet Air Arm
answering this question:
Competition, Navy News,
mid-day on February 10 2010.
0008_NN_Jan.indd 108_NN_Jan.indd 1 88/12/09 15:09:42/12/09 15:09:42
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