Ships in the Caribbean have been treated to an impromptu daytime firework display as the Lynx helicopter of RFA Lyme Bay tested her defences.
The Royal Navy helicopter fired their Infra-Red Countermeasures – better known as flares – over waters off Grand Cayman during a training flight for the 180-knot aircraft.
Flares are intended to decoy incoming heat-seeking missiles by drawing them away from the Lynx’s engines on to a much hotter target.
The firing was part of a number of sorties for the flight which included a practice shoot for the sniper team, a chance to test the defensive flares and a rehearsal of the ship’s use of smoke flame floats.
These are dropped into the ship’s wake when the helicopter makes a radar-controlled approach in very low visibility.
Pilot Lieutenant Oliver Brooksbank of 234 Flight said the purpose was to prove all the systems correctly function as it is the start of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship’s deployment to the Caribbean.
“Testing our kit before entering a theatre of operations is vital – importantly it gives us the confidence to use it when necessary to complete the mission,” he said.
A ten-strong team from 815 Naval Air Squadron based at Yeovilton in Somerset are supporting the Lynx throughout Lyme Bay’s six-month deployment.
The helicopter is being used principally in the fight against trafficking in the region – tracking, chasing and, if necessary, stopping ‘go-fast’ boats used by drug-runners – but can provide assistance in disaster relief by ferrying equipment and people to hurricane-hit areas.
RFA Lyme Bay will be in the Caribbean until the end of the year. Her next port of call is the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla.