These early days of naval rotary wing aviation were constrained by the available performance of the early helicopter and its utility was necessarily focussed on observation, communications, and latterly close in rescue duties. Training was dominated by the need to develop piloting skills as demanded by operations of an inherently fragile aircraft at sea. As the helicopter matured it was able to take on a greater capability in the deployed operational environment and training in the use of this capability including sensors, communications and weapons has become the norm. Wildcat is the latest incarnation of the small ships helicopter-borne weapon system and it represents the current pinnacle of helicopter integration with, and extension of, the surface fleet capability.
The first operational Wildcat HMA Mk2 crews are being trained to achieve the required high level of tactical and technical proficiency on entry-into-service. Training of the Wildcat crews has taken training to new levels using a purpose built training centre, the Wildcat Training Centre, conceived and developed through team work among the MoD and the Industrial partnership of AgustaWestland, Indra and Pennant. Wildcat crews completing their training will have more experience and competency in the use of the aircraft, its systems and its integration with the surface fleet capability than has ever been possible before for their appointments on the Front Line. This lecture will describe the operational capability provided by Wildcat and how its crews are being made ready to play their intended roles as part of an integrated naval weapon system capability. This lecture is held in memoriam of Alan Bristow; a key figure in the rotary world who died on 26 April 2009.
About the speaker:
Cdr Glyn Owen, Commanding Office, Royal Navy & Peter Prager, Head of Training Operations, AgustaWestland
Commander Glyn Owen joined the Royal Navy in 1992 and trained as an Observer. He joined the Lynx Helicopter Force qualifying as a Helicopter Warfare and Observer Instructor teaching advanced warfare and tactics. His operational tours have included the South Atlantic and the Caribbean as a Flight Commander and later as the Air Operations Officer in HMS OCEAN. He has also served in Brussels as the Assistant to the UK Military Representative to NATO and the EU. Glyn was selected for promotion to Commander in 2012 and has completed the Advanced Command and Staff Course and assumed command of 825 Naval Air Squadron.
Peter Prager was in the Royal Navy for 23 years, working as a Technician then an Engineer on various aircraft types. He joined AgustaWestland in 1997 and has worked in various project roles including UK SAR Operations, and is now currently Head of Training Operations (UK) at AgustaWestland.