HMS Hermes joins the Royal Navy, 1959 newsreel from British Pathé

British Pathé newsreel of Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes from 1959.

Royal Navy’s newest helicopter conducts sea trials with RFA Argus

RFA Argus (A135) serves in her principal rôle as Primary Casualty Receiving Ship (PCRS). Her secondary rôle is as an Aviation Training vessel, and in this capacity she is currently conducting trials with the the Lynx Wildcat helicopters of 700W Naval Air Squadron.

Navy Wildcat joins RFA Argus at sea for trials

The Navy’s next-generation helicopter is undergoing five weeks of key trials at sea to prepare it for front-line service in just 15 months time.

A special trials version of Wildcat – replacement for the trusty Lynx which has been in service since the 1970s – has joined aviation training/casualty treatment ship RFA Argus to gather crucial data to allow the helicopter fly from large Royal Navy warships.

Wildcat will spend the bulk of its time operating from Royal Navy frigates and destroyers – just like its predecessor.

But it will also be expected to fly on and off the flight deck of larger vessels: helicopter and aircraft carriers such as HMS Ocean and Queen Elizabeth, assault ships such as HMS Bulwark, and Argus herself.

The characteristics of these bigger ships – such as the wind speed across the deck and the vessel’s motion – are entirely different, so trailblazers must set the limits at which ship and helicopter can safely operate.

Which is exactly what Argus and her trials version of Wildcat – equipped with extensive additional sensors and instrumentation – is doing for the next month in the Western Approaches and Irish Sea.

A 39-strong test team – a mix of military and civilian personnel from the helicopter’s manufacturer AgustaWestland, the Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron Boscombe Down, 700W Naval Air Squadron from RNAS Yeovilton (which is helping to introduce Wildcat to front-line service) and the Lynx Project Team – have joined Argus for the trials.

Navy Wildcat joins RFA Argus at sea for trials.

Thanks to its role as an aviation training ship over the past 30 years, Argus is well used to such trials – and the information gathered can be extrapolated to other large ships and even other aircraft types.

“The trial is a huge team effort – test pilots from AgustaWestland and from Boscombe Down are sharing the flying and assessing the degree of difficulty for each deck landing and take-off,” explains Lt Cdr Rob Dowdell, the lead test pilot the from Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron.

“Maintainers from 700W squadron are spreading and folding the Wildcat and acting as refuelling and lashing numbers, Argus’ aircraft handlers and the ship bridge and Flying Control team are providing the required deck conditions under the direction of civilian experts from QinetiQ at Boscombe Down.”

Wildcat landing on RFA Argus.

After flying, engineers from AgustaWestland are servicing the Wildcat, checking the instrumentation and preparing it for the next day’s sorties, while the firm’s stress experts are ensuring no design limitations are being encroached by analysing the masses of data collected by the trials equipment fitted to the helicopter.

Scientists from QinetiQ have also provided instruments to record the ship’s motion and wind conditions, with the data analysed by the team to ensure the tests are safe.

At the same time the ship’s company were gathering their own data, information and tips on aircraft movements and ground power supplies.

“The embarkation of the Wildcat has given the ship’s company a chance to experience the future of Naval aviation at first hand – and also to test the ships’ aviation facilities to ensure they are ‘future-proof’,” said Lt Cdr Mo Morris, the Argus’ Senior Naval Officer.

Lt Cdr Dowdell added: “The ship’s crew have provided all the essential support to allow Argus to be deployed from anywhere from north of Scotland to the Canary Isles to ensure the correct meteorological conditions are achieved.

“Finding the right weather for testing is crucial with the perfect mix of wind speed, temperature, air pressure and sea state being critical to gathering the right quality data that will allow future global Wildcat deployments.”

The trials are due to finish on November 7, after which a comprehensive report will be compiled documenting all the new limitations and lessons learned.

The Navy’s next-generation helicopter is undergoing five weeks of key trials at sea to prepare it for front-line service in just 15 months time.

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/October/18/131018-Wildcat-Trials

VIDEO: Frigate (1973)

PHOTEX: Sea Kings in Helmand

Two Royal Navy Sea Kings at Forward Operating Base Sangin in Afghanistan. Photographer: LA(PHOT) Nick Tyron.

Osprey lands on HMS Illustrious, Lynx lands on USS Kearsarge

US aircraft lands on British carrier… and British helo lands on US carrier.


130916-M-BS001-017 U.S. 5th FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (Sept. 16, 2013) An MV-22B Osprey from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 226 (Reinforced) lands on the flight deck of the HMS Illustrious (R06). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels/Released)

130916-M-SO289-021 U.S. 5th FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (Sept. 16, 2013) A United Kingdom Army Air Corps Westland Lynx battlefield helicopter lands on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone/Released)

130916-M-BS001-009 U.S. 5th FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (Sept. 16, 2013) An MV-22B Osprey from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 226 (Reinforced) lands on the flight deck of the HMS Illustrious (R06). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels/Released)

130916-M-SO289-008 U.S. 5th FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (Sept. 16, 2013) A United Kingdom Army Air Corps Westland Lynx battlefield helicopter lands on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone/Released)

Royal Navy Tribal-class frigates

HMS Ashanti (F117)
built: Yarrow & Co Ltd, Glasgow
laid down: 15 January 1958
launched: 9 March 1959
commissioned: 23 November 1961
fate: sunk as target 1988

HMS Nubian (F131)
built: HM Dockyard, Portsmouth
laid down: 7 September 1959
launched: 6 September 1960
commissioned: 9 October 1962
fate: sunk as target 1987

HMS Gurkha (F122)
built: JI Thornycroft & Co Ltd, Southampton
laid down: 3 November 1958
launched: 11 July 1960
commissioned: 13 February 1963
fate: sold to Indonesia as ‘Wilhelmus Zakarias Yohannes’ in 1984

HMS Eskimo (F119)
built: JS White & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight
laid down: 22 October 1958
launched: 20 March 1960
commissioned: 21 February 1963
fate: sunk as target 1986

HMS Tartar (F133)
built: HM Dockyard, Devonport
laid down: 22 October 1959
launched: 19 September 1960
commissioned: 26 February 1962
fate: sold to Indonesia as ‘Hasanuddin’ 1984

HMS Mohawk (F125)
built: Vickers-Armstrongs (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Barrow-in-Furness
laid down: 23 December 1960
launched: 5 April 1962
commissioned: 29 December 1963
fate: sold for scrap 1982

HMS Zulu (F124)
built: Alex Stephen & Sons, Ltd, Linthouse, Glasgow
laid down: 13 December 1960
launched: 3 July 1962
commissioned: 17 April 1964
fate: sold to Indonesia as ‘Martha Khristina Tiyahahu’ 1984

Royal Navy receives next-generation Merlin Mk2 helicopters

The shiny new Merlin Mk2.

OK… Mk1 modified to Mk2.

Royal Navy receives upgraded Merlin helicopters

The first of the UK’s fleet of next-generation anti-submarine maritime patrol Merlin Mk2 helicopters have been delivered to the Royal Navy.

The 5 helicopters have been handed over to the Fleet Air Arm following an upgrade as part of a £750 million contract with Lockheed Martin.Fitted with advanced glass cockpits and improved aircrew consoles and avionics, the Merlin Mk2 has advanced touch-screen displays and an improved ability to detect and track targets and share data with other aircraft and ships while airborne. These improvements will also enable the helicopters to carry out counter-piracy and casualty-evacuation duties.

Lieutenant Commander Simon Laurence uses the new touch-screen displays on the flight deck of a new Merlin Mk2 [Picture: Andrew Linnett, Crown copyright]

Thirty Merlin Mk1 helicopters are being converted to Mk2s by Lockheed Martin. Once handed over to the Royal Navy, the airframes will undergo a series of extensive trials. The first helicopters are expected to be ready to deploy on operations by the summer of 2014.Commander Ben Franklin, Commanding Officer of the Merlin Helicopter Force, said:”I am extremely proud to be leading the Merlin Force during this period. The delivery of the first 5 aircraft to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm is a real milestone of this successful programme, which will provide vital support to the Navy as it fulfils its role in protecting UK interests across the globe.”

Crew members from 824 Naval Air Squadron leaving two of the new Merlin Mk2 helicopters after a flight [Picture: Andrew Linnett, Crown copyright]

Commodore Andy Lison, responsible for the Merlin, Lynx and Sea King teams in MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said:”I am delighted that we are now firmly in the delivery phase of the project. The Merlin Mk2 is a truly exceptional aircraft and the programme to develop and build this aircraft has brought together the very best of MOD and defence industry to future-proof this vital capability for Defence.”

The observer’s panel inside a new Merlin Mk2 [Picture: Andrew Linnett, Crown copyright]

Bob Kramer, Vice President and Group Managing Director, Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems, said:”The Merlin capability sustainment programme represents a magnificent team effort led by Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland, supported by our suppliers, to provide the Royal Navy with unrivalled capability to carry out its anti-submarine patrol and policing requirement.”Merlin Mk1 helicopters have been in service with the Fleet Air Arm since the late 1990s and, after thorough testing and evaluation, have been deployed on operations since 2000.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/royal-navy-receives-upgraded-merlin-helicopters