The Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron have now wrapped up an exercise in Scotland to prepare them for operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Merlin helicopters will be the first aircraft to begin flying from HMS Queen Elizabeth, soon followed by Apache, Wildcat, Chinook and F-35.
Observer Lieutenant Dominic Rotherham said:
“Anti-submarine warfare when a Merlin Mk2 is involved isn’t so much a game of cat and mouse, more like mousetrap.
Once you understand what it is the submariner is trying to achieve and the underwater battlespace he has to work with, the likely location of the submarine starts to become clear.
It’s at that point you begin to shape that battlespace to how you want the fight to unfold.”
Merlin helicopters are expected to start ‘low-risk, simple flights’ from the carrier in Summer, before the ship arrives in Portsmouth for the first time. This was previously expected to be be in Spring.
These flights will be followed by flight trials in early 2018 according to Captain Kieran O’Brien, Merlin team leader for the Ministry of Defence.
Queen Elizabeth is due to start sea trials in Summer before her first deployment in 2021, followed by sister ship the Prince of Wales.