The British Royal Navy's multi-purpose Lynx military helicopter has carried out a final firing of the Sea Skua short-range air-to-surface missile (ASM) anti-ship weapon in the middle of the Atlantic.
Lynx embarked on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Portland to conduct the firing of the missile that is due to retire this month. The frigate launched its red inflatable 'killer tomato' target during the operation, which is usually used for gunnery practice.
Missiles were deliberately set to skim over the top of their target, allowing Portland's gunners the chance to hone their skills and destroy the giant inflatable.
Lynx helicopters are able to carry a maximum of four Sea Skuas at one time.
Lieutenant Cambrook, who fired two of the three missiles, said: “A very loud whoosh was heard inside the Lynx before we saw the missile appearing in front of the helicopter, flying very fast into the distance.”
The Sea Skua missile has been in service since the 1982 Falklands conflict and was used to strike a number of vessels from Argentina.
A Sea Skua-equipped Lynx helicopter was also sent to catch Iraqi ships as they attempted to break out off Babiyan Island in the Persian Gulf in 1991, which managed to wipe out Saddam Hussein's Navy and destroy 14 enemy vessels.
Sea Skuas missiles have been fired for the third time this century, with Lynx ultimately firing the final three missiles.
Lynx's retirement will also see the end of Sea Skua's service in the British military, as the missile is not compatible for operation with the Lynx's successor helicopter Wildcat.
The Wildcat helicopter will have two new replacements for Sea Skua: the heavy anti-ship missile Sea Venom, and the smaller Martlett missile that can be used against rigid-inflatable boats (RIBs) and small vessels.
Image: HMS Portland's Lynx helicopter carrying Sea Skua missiles. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.