Royal Navy helicopter crews have stepped up training ahead of the deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group to the Asia-Pacific.
The Royal Navy say in a news release that aircrew from 820 Naval Air Squadron made the short flight from their base at Culdrose to the nearby bay to launch dummy versions of Sting Ray, the RN’s mainstay lightweight torpedo for the past three decades and more.
“It’s carried by Merlins and Wildcats, plus Type 23 frigates such as HMS Kent and Richmond… not just to arm their helicopters, but also to launch from tubes built into the superstructure. As the principal submarine hunter, Merlin carriers depth charges or four Sting Rays – although the latter will be replaced by a new 21st-Century lightweight torpedo announced in the recent Defence Review.”
820 Naval Air Sqaudron – seven Merlin Mk2s plus 200 air and ground crew – will shortly deploy with HMS Queen Elizabeth, first on a short exercise off Scotland to hone combined skills (Exercise Strike Warrior) before the entire group of warships, auxiliaries and air power heads to the Asia-Pacific region for the remainder of 2021.
The Royal Navy say that it is the task of 820 to shield the group not just from submarines but also threats on the water and, with the advent of the new Crowsnest variant, to provide long-range airborne early warning for the group… and direct F-35 Lightnings on to target.