The Royal Navy’s commando carrier HMS Ocean operated the Navy’s latest attack helicopter, the Wildcat, for the first time.
The Wildcat which entered service last year at a commissioning ceremony held at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset, landed on the Plymouth-based ship during a major exercise.
The Royal Navy’s first Wildcat began its operational deployment at sea this year and after extensive trials the chance finally arose for HMS Ocean’s air crew to see the aircraft at close quarters during Exercise Joint Warrior in the North Sea.
Leading Airman Ryan Lawson, one of HMS Ocean’s leading aircraft handlers and marshaller, was one of the first to bring the Wildcat onboard, said: “The Wildcat had a unique appearance compared to other Lynx aircraft that we are used to seeing. I personally feel privileged and honoured to say that I was one of the very first people to marshal the next generation of naval aircraft onto the flight deck of HMS Ocean.’’
Replacing the Lynx helicopter, the Wildcat has many improvements, making it a significantly more capable aircraft. It has a redesigned tail rotor system improving the strength and stealth of the aircraft whilst the aircrew benefit from the improved state-of-the-art cockpit with high tech communications, crash worthy-armoured seats and full 360 degree colour surveillance radar.
The Wildcat, like its predecessor can be used in a variety of roles including anti-ship and anti-submarine protection, casualty evacuation, battlefield reconnaissance and as a general utility helicopter.
HMS Ocean is the Royal Navy’s helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft. She can operate six helicopters on her flight deck with space in the hangar to hold, transport and maintain many more aircraft. The crew numbers 380 personnel including 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines who operate four landing craft.