Apache crews have completed two weeks intensive training on HMS Prince of Wales.
“Three Apache gunships joined HMS Prince of Wales to allow the Army Air Corps’ fliers get their sea legs back – and give the Portsmouth-based warship a taste of the helicopter’s striking power. The fearsome-looking aircraft joined the carrier before she departed her home base on her latest series of trials and training in the English and Bristol Channels.
The Army Air Corps maintains a specialist maritime Apache squadron, 656, with modified gunships equipped with floatation devices should one of the multi-million-pound helicopters having to ditch (thankfully they haven’t).
Otherwise it remains the same fearsome tank-busting battlewagon operated over land, equipped with a chain gun capable of spitting out a hail of 30mm lead at 600 rounds a minute, CRV rockets to knock out buildings and Hellfire anti-tank missiles.”
The emphasis of the squadron’s embarkation on the carrier was ensuring air and ground crew were used to operating at sea – and to train Prince of Wales’ air/air engineering departments in handling, moving, maintaining and launching/recovering the Apache as part of the carrier’s broader air group.
The Army Air Corps fliers landed and took off 161 times, qualified one new pilot for maritime operations by day/night, while eight more regained or maintained their currency.