Fleet Air Arm engineers have fitted cutting edge sensors to the Wildcat helicopter fleet supporting operations in the Gulf.
The team from 815 Naval Air Squadron raced against time to fit the fifth-generation Identification Friend or Foe system (often shortened to IFF).
It enables crews to know whether aircraft detected on radar are friendly or hostile.
The latest edition, Mode 5, was necessary to allow the Wildcat helicopters of HMS Montrose and HMS Argyll to work safely alongside US forces in the Gulf, the Royal Navy said.
The engineers had only three weeks to install the equipment in Somerset and prepare the Wildcats for their 3,500-mile journey to the Middle East.
Chief Petty Officer Jay Partington said: “Everyone worked tirelessly to have the Mode 5 aircraft ready to embark when their ships sailed.”
Due to coronavirus restrictions personnel accompanying the helicopters had to isolate twice – in the UK and on arrival in the Gulf.
The engineers on the ground could not interact with those who had accompanied the Wildcats on their journey and had to don full PPE in the heat of the Gulf.
CPO Partington added: “The ‘can-do safely’ attitude and determination by everyone involved at every level meant that there was no gap in operational output.”
The Navy said the IFF systems are vital today, “especially when operating with other NATO countries where automated defence systems are used”.
Cover image: Royal Navy.