Based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose are three helicopter squadrons which specialise in Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC).Â 849 Naval Air Squadron is the HQ and training squadron, with 854 and 857 squadrons forming the â€œfront lineâ€ or operational squadrons which deploy on operations, currently to Afghanistan.
The airborne surveillance and control capabilities of the aircraft are proving invaluable in the war against terrorism and before deploying to Afghanistan, all members of the squadrons go through a series of rigorous courses and assessments to ensure their preparedness for operations.Â All personnel must be proficient with the SA80 A2 assault rifle and aircrew are also trained in the use of sidearms.Â Additionally, the aircrew are trained in â€œdownbirdâ€ drills to ensure that they can protect themselves and the aircraft if forced to land in the desert for any reason.
In Afghanistan, Camp Bastion airfield is 3000 feet above sea level and this has an impact in terms of both helicopter operations and on maintenance personnel who have to work in temperatures of up to 45 degrees C.Â The first few days after a squadron arrives at Camp Bastion are spent re-qualifying the aircrew in dust landings and re-familiarising with the complex airspace in and around Bastion Airfield before commencing operations.Â The ASaC engineering personnel have a close working relationship with Commando squadronsâ€™ engineers who operate the Sea King Mk4 Helicopter, working together when required to enable both squadrons to maximise their serviceability rates.
The squadrons soon settle into a routine with the engineers working 12 hour shifts and the aircrew fly Ops as required by the Command, often launching on 6 hour missions requiring double refuels in support of the United States Marine Corps and other coalition partners.Â In terms of â€˜off watchâ€™ time, the teams make full use of the gym facilities to maintain fitness levels, and down time also enables crews to complete the various necessary secondary that come their way.
Although primarily a maritime aircraft, the ASaC helicopters have been adapted for use in the land environment using their powerful radar to track vehicle movement across the desert.Â The squadrons support land forces from both Task Force Helmand (UK) and Task Force Leatherneck (United States Marine Corps) in the south of the country and provide real time support to troops operating close to the Talibanâ€™s strongholds.
At present 857 Naval Air Squadron is serving in Afghanistan and will be relieved by 854 Naval Air Squadron at the end of the year.
- Bristow Norway wins five year contracts for two S92s
- Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for New Tunnelton Helipad
- Helimission Approved to provide Services in Himachal Pradesh
- Rapides Regional Medical Centre awaits FAA Helipad Approval
- Sikorsky complete first year of S92 spares centre in Norway
- Malaysia celebrates 50 years service of S-61 fleet
- Eagle Copters Australasia to represent Dart Aerospace in Asia Pacific region
- Blue Hawaiian partners with ranch for new tour
- Boeing expect US Army to save $1 Billion by picking MH-139
- Unitech delivers new weapons pylon for US Army Black Hawks
- Alberta hospital helipad vandalised
- Travis County to sell UH-1 and replace EC145s
- Thai Aviation Services picks Skytrac for S76D and S92 fleet
- Yorkshire Air Ambulance achieves NVIS status
- Helicentre launches sixth year of Pilot Scholarships
- RACQ LifeFlight builds new base at Archerfield
- Russian Helicopters to participate in China Helicopter Expo 2017
- India approves Able Aerospace MRO solutions
- Helicopter crash in lake
- Boeing awarded $19M contract for field service representatives for the CH-47