HMS Exeter is shown in the foreground with HMS Illustrious, taking part in Exercise Neptune Warrior
HMS Exeter is shown in the foreground with HMS Illustrious, taking part in Exercise Neptune Warrior.
Having spent two years embarking periodically in HMS Invincible as the High-Readiness Aircraft Carrier, 801 NAS had just returned from 6 weeks training with HMS Illustrious, in order to assist in her preparations for the role. Embarking for the second and third phases of her Operational Sea Training (OST) package, together with 849 Squadron A Flight Sea King Mk 7s and a Sea King Mk 6 of 771 Squadron, 801's Sea Harrier FA2s tailored their flying to provide progressive training for all of HMS Illustrious newly formed crew.
After two weeks of combined Fixed and Rotary Wing flying operations, HMS Illustrious next embarked the RAF Harrier GR7's of 1(F) Squadron, who soon adjusted to the unique demands of operating from an Aircraft Carrier at sea. It was at this point, after three intensive weeks that HMS Illustrious and her Tailored Air Group (TAG) were assessed to be fit to continue into Phase 3 of OST, where a highflying rate would be integrated into a tactical scenario.
Following a brief port visit to Newcastle, in order to refresh all embarked personnel and conduct essential maintenance, HMS Illustrious sailed with her full complement of TAG for Exercise Neptune Warrior. This Exercise had an extremely large number of multinational participants, ranging from HMAS Anzac (an Australian Frigate), to a Dutch Submarine, and was conducted in the challenging waters of the North-West Scottish coast. Neptune Warrior pitted two large Naval Task Groups against each other in a complex Political scenario, and enabled the TAG to operate in a Maritime Strike role, focussing on the GR7s Strike capability
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Periscope of USS Dallas and HMS Illustrious
The periscope of the American submarine USS Dallas cuts through the surface as HMS Illustrious sails past in the morning haze.
HMS Illustrious, RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Fort Austin, USS Bulkeley and the American Los Angeles Class Submarine USS Dallas took part in a joint anti submarine exercise in the Middle East.
The aims of the exercise is to develop maritime interoperability by exercising Anti-Submarine Warfare tactics with US allies in the challenging sonar environment of the warm and shallow waters of the Gulf region.
The exercise was broken down into three phases. The ships and submarines initially tested acoustic and non-acoustics sensor performance against known positions, gaining useful real life data for the region.
The second phase relied on the ships escorting HMS Illustrious as the Mission Essential Unit (MEU) along a passage whilst evading detection and simulated torpedo attacks by USS Dallas.
In the final phase USS Dallas tried to locate and destroy RFA Fort Austin as the MEU, in a holding box which simulated an anchorage, as the UK and US naval ships provided protection. Additional helicopter support to the ships was ably provided by the Anti-Submarine sonar dipping Merlins embarked in HMS Illustrious and USS Bulkeley's Seahawk, with Westminster's Mark 8 Lynx helicopter providing an additional surface search and weapon carrying capability
HMS Defender Escorting USS George HW Bush
Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender escorts the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush in the Middle East.
HMS Defender arrived on station to provide vital support to a US Navy carrier task group in the region, using her world-class air defence weapon systems to protect the US Navy aircraft carrier, USS George H W Bush and her aircraft as they launch airstrikes as part of the international coalition against ISIL.
HMS Defender, one of the most advanced warships ever built for the Royal Navy, is operating as a fully integrated part of the carrier strike group. Using her air defence radar and Sea Viper missile system, the ship provides an umbrella of air defence to the Nimitz class aircraft carrier and her escort ships while they patrol the Gulf and launch airstrikes against the terrorist group ISIL.
Deployed to the Gulf in June 2014, HMS Defender's primary role has been to conduct maritime security operations as part of the United Kingdom's enduring commitment to the region as well as working with the 30 nation Combined Maritime Forces organisation and Gulf Cooperation Council countries to bolster existing relationships.
HMS Defender is now operating with the US Navy's Arleigh-Burke class destroyers USS Truxton and USS Roosevelt and the Ticonderoga class destroyer USS Phillipine Sea to provide support for the aircraft carrier.
Engaged in round-the-clock operations, HMS Defender's task is to build an accurate air surveillance picture over the whole of the Gulf in order to guard the US aircraft carrier against possible air attack while she launches airstrikes against ISIL targets
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