Helicopter crews see themselves through enemy sights

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Pilots and aircrew from the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) recently got to see their helicopters from an enemy perspective when they were allowed to target aircraft with Taliban weaponry.

During two days arranged by the CHF’s Intelligence Cell, the naval airmen were instructed in the use of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems, similar to those faced by coalition crews flying over Afghanistan in the past four years.

They were also shown examples of the small arms currently being used by insurgents and given a hands-on practical targeting stance to see exactly how enemy forces target the aircraft of the Joint Helicopter Force (JHF) - a coalition force comprising helicopters from all three Services to support ISAF and Afghan National Security Forces operations in Helmand province.

Lieutenant Mick Cowie RN, the Force Intelligence Officer, has completed three operational tours in Afghanistan:

It is essential that our aviation crews fully understand the types of weaponry that they face whilst deployed in Afghanistan,” he said. “This hands-on experience ensures they are fully trained and prepared to face the threat.

Based at Camp Bastion, the JHF is responsible for some 150 flights every day. The Force is a truly tri-Service outfit, with an equal mix of Royal Navy, Army, RAF and Royal Marines manning its 24/7 operation. The aircraft are similarly representative, with RAF Chinooks and Merlins, Army Apaches and Lynx, and two types of Royal Navy Sea Kings.