Wattisham Airfield: Apache helicopters’ mission in the Mediterranean and Adriatic

APACHE attack helicopter crews are carrying out exercises from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean and Adriatic.

The helicopters from Wattisham Airfield, near Stowmarket, set sail on HMS Illustrious to carry out exercises as part of a three-month mission.

The crews will be training with French and Albanian forces while carrying out large scale amphibious landings.

Major Piers Lewis, officer commanding the Apaches’ 656 Squadron, said: “Working alongside the Royal Navy and Royal Marines is an excellent opportunity to develop the capabilities of the army’s Apache attack helicopters.

“Flying and maintaining the Apache from ships is a complex task that asks a lot of both pilots and ground crew. This is the third time since 2010 that 656 Squadron has been on board Royal Navy ships, and our techniques and tactics are maturing with each deployment.”

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Apaches were used for beach landing exercises in Cornwall before HMS Illustrious set off to the Mediterranean and Adriatic.

The helicopters have been used in Afghanistan since 2006 and carried out sorties as part of operations over Libya last year.

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During the three-month long mission, Apaches will also use the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

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