Wildcat helicopters land on HMS Elizabeth
Royal Marines

Royal Marines Wildcats Cleared To Join HMS Queen Elizabeth On Frontline Operations

A Commando Wildcat, from 847 Naval Air Squadron, carried out 24 landings on the Queen Elizabeth-class warship in the Channel.

Wildcat helicopters land on HMS Elizabeth

A Royal Marines Wildcat has conducted day and night landings on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, allowing them to join the aircraft carrier on frontline operations when needed.

The helicopter, from 847 Naval Air Squadron, carried out 24 landings on the Queen Elizabeth-class warship in the Channel.

Pilots and a crewman from the Yeovilton-based squadron joined the aircraft carrier, with night-vision goggles used during the after-dark landings.

Petty Officer Aircrewman Arron Tobin explained that while the deck of the aircraft carrier gives the crew a large area in which to manoeuvre, "it can also get very busy with lots of activity" and provides "excellent training".

Although the Royal Marines' Wildcats are more often used over land, the Command Helicopter Force aircraft are expected to have the ability to deploy to sea.

The helicopter could be needed to carry out tasks including reconnaissance, close air support, directing strikes on an enemy, casualty evacuation and transporting equipment.

The British Army's Wildcat is without the capability to operate at sea.

A Wildcat on HMS Queen Elizabeth - the carrier will continue training before her maiden deployment next year (Picture: Royal Navy).

Crew from 847 Naval Air Squadron had already performed a number of sorties in state-of-the-art simulators before heading to the Channel to join the aircraft carrier.

Lieutenant Commander David Westley, a qualified Helicopter Instructor, said: "It was hugely rewarding to be part of the first Commando Wildcat crew to conduct night vision deck landings on the Queen Elizabeth class."

HMS Queen Elizabeth is now beginning sea trials, following a period of quarantine while at sea.

The carrier's departure from her homeport of Portsmouth was delayed while her 800-strong crew were tested for COVID-19 last month.

Two members of the crew tested positive and were removed before the ship departed on 29 April.

Cover image: Royal Navy.