The Royal Naval frigate HMS Monmouth has conducted the first in-service landings of a new helicopter on board at sea. The Wildcat of 700 Naval Air Squadron from Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset landed on the flight-deck of the Plymouth-based ship to conduct the flight deck landings of the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft.
The squadron, the RN’s first to be equipped with the Wildcat, put its new aircraft through its paces on one of the ships the Wildcat will operate from on deployments when entering operational service in 2015.
Wildcat is the Navy’s replacement for the Lynx that has been serving the Fleet for over 40 years. Although it may resemble a Lynx from the outside, underneath its more powerful engines and new radar, avionics and cockpit are all much more capable.
Fliers and the ship’s crew now have a much better understanding of how the helicopter will work alongside the existing ships as well as the warships of the future. The exercise has also helped a significant tactical development of the new aircraft’s capability.
HMS Monmouth’s captain, Commander Gordon Ruddock, said:
“It has been a privilege to have provided support to 700W NAS tactical Development of the Wildcat and the exciting future of the Fleet Air Arm that it represents.
“Wildcat provides a sea-change in what units such as Monmouth can expect of their ship’s flight above and beyond the excellent service Lynx has provided.”
HMS Monmouth recently returned from a seven-month deployment to the Gulf deterring piracy and other illegal activities, and has spend the Autumn in UK waters conducting Maritime Security operations.
The ship is known informally as the ‘Black Duke’ after James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth who was beheaded at Tower Hill on 15 July 1685.
In reference to this heritage the ship is unique in the Royal Navy as the only ship to fly a black flag and have a black as opposed to red name plate.
Press Release, December 03, 2013; Image: Royal Navy