British Royal Navy's Wildcat helicopter returns after training aboard German Navy frigate


A Wildcat helicopter from the British Royal Navy's armed forces unit Fleet Air Arm has returned after completing an intensive training programme with the German Navy.

The 213 Flight was deployed to perform seven weeks of training, which was conducted aboard the German Navy frigate Lübeck.

Fleet Air Arm’s 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) provided one of its Wildcat helicopters as a replacement after the German Navy’s Lynx aircraft started to suffer from problems with cracks in their tails.

The Wildcat helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton joined the German vessel throughout its pre-deployment training.

Ten of the Royal Navy’s 11-member team of fliers and engineers underwent three hours of German lessons each day for five months during the training period, while the German aircrew were learning to convert from the Lynx helicopter to the Wildcat before joining the Lübeck.

The aircraft was stationed at the German Navy’s Nordholz air base, which is the country's counterpart to RNAS Yeovilton, and Wilhelmshaven, which is considered to be Germany’s equivalent of Portsmouth.

The British fliers were ready to join the German Navy vessel at the end of April as it went through operational sea training, which was provided by the Royal Navy off the coast of Plymouth, England.

Both the ship and the helicopter then went through a rigorous training programme that included fighting fires, fending off air and submarine attacks, responding to disasters on-shore and carrying out escort duties.

"We’ve proven that we can operate a brand new helicopter in a different language on a foreign ship, and do it as effectively as on-board a Royal Navy ship."

The aircraft was slated to continue its operations with the Lübeck frigate throughout her subsequent deployment, but failed to join the vessel on its migrant mission in the Mediterranean due to operational issues.

The Wildcat then returned to RNAS Yeovilton.

213 flight commander lieutenant Oliver Brooksbank said: “Our German adventure has been an enormous challenge, and we’re devastated that it’s been cut short due to operational reasons, but we’ve proven that we can operate a brand new helicopter in a different language on a foreign ship, and do it as effectively as on-board a Royal Navy ship.

“Wildcat and Lübeck were entirely integrated, compatible, and ready for further NATO tasking.”


Image: Fleet Air Arm’s Wildcat helicopter. Photo: courtesy of British Royal Navy.