Garvie Island – a rocky outcrop off Cape Wrath at the north-west tip of Scotland – was hit by two practice 500lb Paveways, dropped by US Marine Corps pilots operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth, say the Royal Navy.

“Directing the runs was 847 Naval Air Squadron, whose Wildcat helicopters provide wide-ranging battlefield support for commandos on the ground. In this case Lieutenant Dom Savage was in a Wildcat acting as the airborne Forward Air Controller, directing the F-35s of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 – operating from the flight deck of the UK’s new carrier, alongside Royal Navy and RAF F-35s of 617 Squadron. Working hand-in-hand with the Wildcat crew was a specialist commando unit, 148 (Meiktila) Battery Royal Artillery, who ‘paint’ the target – pointing a laser beam at it.”

A 500lb Paveway laser-guided bomb explodes upon hitting Garvie Island
A bomb hitting the island.

According to a Royal Navy release, it played out like this:

Lt Savage: “Avenger 1-1, cleared hot.”

F-35 pilot: “Avenger 1-1, cleared hot.”

F-35 pilot: “Avenger 1-1, one away. Time away: 30 seconds.”

F-35 pilot: “Ten seconds.”

F-35 pilot: “Hulk [call-sign for the 148 Battery Observer], laser on.”


F-35 pilot: “Avenger 1-1, splash.”

Lt Savage: “Observing good effects on target.”

An 847 NAS Wildcat lifts off at Cape Wrath

847 is the only helicopter squadron in the UK military’s inventory capable of acting as spotters for ground-based and naval gunfire and calling in air strikes, say the Royal Navy.

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ChariotRider (@guest_524724)
6 months ago

Hi Just one small point, if the Forward Air Controller was Royal Artillery which makes him an Army Commando rather than Royal Marines as stated in the headline. If this is right it means that all three UK services and the USMC were involved in this mission. It highlights just how Joint the UK armed forces are when they deploy. Another point I noted was the comment from the other article “F-35 jets drop bomb on Garvie Island for three days” was that US weapons are being carried by HMS Queen Elizabeth. We have a very flexible capability here and… Read more »

Joe16 (@guest_524738)
6 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi CR, good points all.

One thing I did note was that these were USMC aircraft, but dropping Paveway IVs. I thought these were UK weapons, and the US use JDAM instead? Or am I wrong about that?

ChariotRider (@guest_524776)
6 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Hi Joe, No you are right, the Paveway IV is primarily a UK weapon according to Wikipedia. Other users are Saudi and the Philippine Air Force. I wonder if it has been cleared for use on USMC F-35’s operating from the QE? Another possibility is that the article talks about USMC ‘pilots’ not aircraft, so perhaps some of the US pilots are cleared on UK F-35’s..? The picture is further confused in that US weapons are referred to as well. Could it be that the necessary Forward Air Controller kit for JDAM was not available? Is any specialist kit needed… Read more »

dan (@guest_524807)
6 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Boeing has been making LJDAM kits for the US military for over 10 years now.

AlexS (@guest_524820)
6 months ago

F35 should have a laser designator instead of relying in land based one.