Apache helicopters complete training on HMS Prince of Wales
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Apache helicopters complete training on HMS Prince of Wales

23 Jun 2021 (Last Updated June 23rd, 2021 12:35)

During the training, the 656 Squadron operating Apache helicopters shared flight deck with RAF Chinooks and Royal Navy Merlins.

Apache helicopters complete training on HMS Prince of Wales
An Apache crew carries out pre-flight checks on the flight deck before a dawn sortie. Credit: Royal Navy.

Three Apache helicopters have completed a two-week training on the British Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.

The training was part of a task that involved preparing the aircraft carrier personnel in handling these attack helicopters, as well as familiarising the air crew with operations at sea.

The three helicopters from the Army Air Corps’ maritime Apache squadron, 656, landed onboard HMS Prince of Wales before it sailed for a series of trials and training programmes in the English and Bristol Channels.

During the fortnight long training, the Army Air Corps fliers landed and took off 161 times.

One new pilot is now qualified for maritime operations by day/night, while another eight members regained or maintained their capabilities.

The two-week exercise saw the 656 Squadron sharing the flight deck with RAF Chinooks and Royal Navy Merlins.

F-35 Lightning jets also recently landed on HMS Prince of Wales for the first time.

Apache pilot major Tony Thompson, who instructed the air crew, said: “HMS Prince of Wales is a much larger ship to land on, but she’s also much darker.

“It’s quite intimidating, it’s not until you are right next to the ship they you can make out enough detail on her to land.”

These aircraft from 656 Squadron have modified gunships equipped with floatation devices, while the remaining capabilities are similar to its counterparts that operate over land.

The Apache helicopters feature a chain gun capable of firing 600 rounds a minute, CRV rockets to destroy buildings and Hellfire anti-tank missiles.

Separately, the Royal Navy announced that the F-35 jets have joined their first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The stealth jets carried out operational sorties in support of Operation Shader and US Operation Inherent Resolve.