UK ASW helicopter crews join US counterparts for sub-hunting tests

Photo: Royal Navy

Royal Navy aviators embarked aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will be taking part in submarine-hunting tests with the US Navy.

According to the Royal Navy, the 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) are sending a team and two of their Merlin Mk2 helicopters to the Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre, to take part in tactical development and training alongside their colleagues from the US Navy.

820 NAS are currently supporting the F35 flying trials onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth off the East Coast of the USA, and will bring their considerable ASW expertise to bear in exercises with the Americans.

The aircrew, normally based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, will be honing their Anti-Submarine Warfare skills and polishing their tactics for carrier strike task group operations.

The navy did not specify when the tests would start. The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently on a visit to New York after completing the first of three developmental testing phases for the F-35B Lightning II.

The F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) returns to the ship in late October for the second phase which will concentrate on external stores testing, minimum performance short-takeoffs and SRVLs, and night operations.

A third developmental test for First of Class Flight Trials (Fixed Wing), followed by operational testing, is scheduled for 2019. Together, the tests will help the UK defense ministry reach F-35B initial operational capability in 2020.

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