The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has integrated aeronautical and visual-landing aid equipment in its Adelaide-class frigate HMAS Newcastle, making it the first in its class and second navy vessel to receive the equipment.
Designed to work with the night vision equipment worn by navy helicopter crews, the new externally fitted device features a pilot information display, stabilised glide-slope indicator, modified stabilised horizon reference bar lighting, obstruction lights and helicopter in-flight refuelling lights.
The operator-control device offers interface between helicopter control officers and external equipment, in addition to the remote panels in the operations room, bridge and recovery-assist secure transverse (RAST) control room.
HMAS Navy Newcastle flight control officer lieutenant commander Chris Mitchell said the new kit will provide users in key positions with an indication of the deck status and control of the wave-off lights, if approval to land is revoked due to a safety or operational requirement.
"Current night flying operations require aircrew to ‘de-goggle’ prior to recovery, due to the type of lighting and visual-landing aids ships currently have," Mitchell said.
In a bid to become familiar with the new device and its maintenance, a two-day guided-missile frigate visual-landing aids operator and maintainer training course was attended by personnel deployed on the vessel.
"It is envisaged that the enhanced capability will enable navy pilots to conduct night launch, recovery and transfer operations whilst utilising night vision goggles," Mitchell added.
In addition, members of 816 Squadron, Aviation Maintenance and Flight Test Unit, Fleet Aviation and the Fleet Engineering Division have also completed relevant training sessions.
Flight trials are scheduled to be carried out by the Aviation Maintenance and Flight Test Unit, after which the vessel’s company and the embarked flight will be allowed to merge training and increase system facts during the sea qualification and work-up period.
Image: The operator-control device aboard HMAS Newcastle. Photo: courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy.