The Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force (LWMF) was awarded the prestigious Australia Shield on 26 July by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas KCB DSC ADC, at a ceremony held at 815 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.
The Australia Shield, a gift from the people of Australia is usually awarded to the Squadron that has demonstrated the greatest operational efficiency throughout the year but the uniqueness of LWMF operations throughout 2012 meant that the Shield could not be awarded to a single unit but the Force as a whole.
The past year has been uniquely demanding for the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force. In addition to its delivery of highly capable, operationally ready flights deployed worldwide, every single day of the year, the Force also made an exceptionally vital contribution to the security of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The summer of 2012 saw the force developing and delivering a pan UK security effort. Uniquely within the Armed Forces they delivered both Air and Maritime Security Operations and were indispensable as a focal point for the coordination of aviation assets operating within the Op Olympic airspace.
The Australia Shield was presented to the most Junior and Senior member of the Force, Aircraft Engineering Technician (AET) Ash Whittle (19) and Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Nigel Cunningham (54)
Lt Cdr Nigel Cunningham, Detachment Commander for the Olympic Tasking, said:
“This role created many unique challenges for the Force both within an engineering element as well as developing new tactics and procedures for the aircrew.
“For a nine week period covering the Olympics, we remained ready to launch at a moments notice 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week with 5 Lynx aircraft, 90 engineers and aircrew to support the Air and Maritime Security Plan embarked in HMS Ocean.”
The past year has once again seen Lynx Flights embarked in Royal Naval warships on patrol around the world: conducting a wide spectrum of operational tasks including Maritime Security to Counter Piracy, Maritime Counter Terrorism to Counter Narcotics.
AET Whittle the youngest member of LWMF said:
“It is really good that our hard work is recognised through presentations like these; it makes it all worth while gives you the motivation to keep working hard in the future”
The Commanding Officer of LWMF, Commander Kevin Fleming said:
“It is a huge honour for the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force to be awarded the Australia Shield for 2012 and it demonstrates the flexibility and adaptability of my team and the Lynx Helicopter Maritime Attack (HMA) Mark 8.
“No single unit within the Force could have achieved what we did; it really was a whole team effort.”
The Force continues to operate aircraft around the world; Lynx from 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) are currently embarked on ships around the world including the South Atlantic, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
702 NAS is still training future Lynx crews and the crews of 700W NAS work to develop the tactics and operating procedures for the latest and most modern aircraft the Royal Navy has, the Wildcat HMA Mk2.
The Wildcat will slowly take over from the Lynx HMA Mk8 over the coming years as the nations only Maritime Attack Helicopter.
Press Release, July 30, 2013; Image: Royal Navy