ROYAL NAVY AIRCRAFT HANDLERS STUNG BY USS WASP
Aircraft Handlers from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose have started trained alongside their US Navy and US Marine counterparts on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.
The Six Royal Navy Handlers, employed as part of the Wasp's flight deck team, are operating with the full range of US Navy and Marine Corps helicopters as well as the tiltrotor MV-22 Osprey. The USS Wasp has also been used extensively to trail and assess the US and British new F35B – Lightening II Joint Strike Jet Fighters.
The USS Wasp is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship, deployed as part of the Amphibious Ready Group to support maritime and theatre security cooperation efforts with the US 6th Fleet area of operations, in the Mediterranean. The US 6th Fleet based out of Naples in Italy, is able to conduct a full spectrum of naval operations, often in partnership with allied, joint and inter-agency partners.
The vessel and her sister ships were the first in the US Navy specifically designed to accommodate Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicles for fast troop movement over the beach and Harrier II jets, which provide close air support for her deployed assault force. The United States Marine Corps expects to operate its Harriers until 2025.
“Living with one another is good for integration,” said Chief Petty Officer Rich Clark. “Working on their decks and experiencing US aircraft can only help us on future operations when we are alongside each other. Our people are getting a greater awareness of all the different aircraft types there are and an understanding how different platforms work. This is the first group of guys who are straight out of training. Some of them have never been on a ship before, so for the younger ones this is a fantastic experience.”
The two Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers will operate the F35-B jets as well as a full Merlin fleet of helicopters. Aircraft Handlers like the Royal Navy crew onboard the USS Wasp will be at the forefront of the reintroduction of working on bigger and vastly more complex flight decks. The two new carriers will operate the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, with flight trials expecting to start in 2018.