The UK Royal Navy Apache helicopter fleet conducted manoeuvres aboard the HMS Illustrious for the first time after an 18-month, £40m overhaul of the aircraft carrier.

The Invincible Class light aircraft carrier has taken over responsibility as the UK Navy’s helicopter assault carrier from the HMS Ocean.

The Apache helicopter fleet has provided critical support in the UN Libya mission, enabling the Royal Navy to carry out combat operations ashore from HMS Ocean.

Illustrious’s commanding officer Captain Jerry Kyd said, “Illustrious has served as a helicopter carrier before, but we are now looking in more detail at the routes and processes we use to get troops ready to go.”

A pilot from 664 Squadron said, “The landing space is obviously smaller and it’s a moving target that we are returning to from our flights, but we are confident that we can manoeuvre in most weathers.”

Currently the largest ship in the Royal Navy, the warship HMS Ocean is scheduled to enter a refit programme.