Military combine for full-on war scenario on Dartmoor
Trainee Royal Naval fliers and engineers spent a week living and flying on Dartmoor as they were given a taste of life as the wings of the Royal Marines.
Sea Kings with Royal Naval air and ground crew from 848 Naval Air Squadron spent the week operating the helicopters in an austere, inhospitable environment.
RNAS Yeovilton-based 848 Squadron feeds the two front-line Commando Helicopter Force Sea King squadrons with around 50 pilots and aircrew, and more than 150 helicopter maintainers, engineers and technicians every year.
The relative quiet of Dartmoor and its environment meant the squadron could enact a wide-ranging, full-on war scenario.
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Lieutenant Commander Paul Barker, the squadron's senior engineer, said: "The week-long military training exercise has always been an important test for aircrew as they complete their training.
"But it is also a great opportunity for the engineers on the squadron to demonstrate their leadership and professional aptitude in a challenging environment."
As the Commando Helicopter Force support the Royal Marines, there were plenty of green-berets to provide expert instruction on security and field skills, plus defending a hastily-established forward operating base from a full-scale assault. The engineers were also taught lessons from Afghanistan, where the force has served extensively, including how to strip out a Sea King potentially under enemy fire.
Back in 2009, a Sea King was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in an area occupied by insurgents in the war-torn country. Experts deemed the helicopter "saveable" and decided to transport it back to Camp Bastion for repair.
Before it could be airlifted to base, heavy components had to be removed from the stricken chopper by the engineers, while troops provided cover for them to work safely.
That successful operation has now become a mainstay of training in the field for the flight engineers.