Lima Company, 42 Commando, ‘fought’ their way through the Virginia in an exercise designed to simulate rescuing downed aircrew.
“This is a great new role for the Royal Marines and it is really exciting to be involved in developing this new skill from the ground up,” said Corporal Richard Dowling in a news release.
The Royal Nvay say that the mission assigned to Lima troops extends beyond rescuing aircrew who’ve gone down deep in hostile territory. According to a release , it encompasses any mission to recover what are known as isolated personnel stranded in a ‘non-permissive environment’; this could include downed pilots, UK nationals or UK forces who have become separated from their Units.
“With the return of fast-jet operations, it’s possible an F-35 Lightning might come down on a mission over hostile soil and its pilot forced to bail out – a scenario played out on the big screen by Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman in Behind Enemy Lines.
In that Hollywood blockbuster, a specialist marines team waited on a US carrier for the green light to extract downed pilot Wilson from the war-torn former Yugoslavia.”
Lima decamped to Quantico, 30 miles outside Washington DC, one of the US Marine Corps’ largest bases, where they were joined by two Merlin Mk4 helicopters from 845 Naval Air Squadron, permanently assigned to the Royal Marines to carry them into battle. The US took part by providing Sea Hawk helicopters and allowing use of their ranges.