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Large Scale UKSF Exercise


A week-long maritime exercise involving United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) air and ground units has recently completed. The tri-service series of training sorties, codenamed Exercise Faraday Field, were ran out of the Altcar Training Camp in North West England between the 13th and 18th of January 2019. [1]

Altcar Training Camp, England (google earth kmz file)

The exercise featured Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy helicopters inserting UKSF (SBS/SAS) onto maritime objectives at Morecombe Bay, further up the coast. Morecombe bay is the site of UK's second-largest natural gas field and consists of various rigs, processing centres, terminals, pipelines and associated shipping, all of which present a tempting target for enemy's.

This workout for Britain's maritime counter terrorism forces comes barely a month since a real-world operation against a maritime objective took place. On December 21st, 2018, a hijacked cargo ship was stormed by a helicopter-borne SBS team. [2]

Altcar Training Camp hosted an open session on last day of the exercise in which the public were able to walk around several of the helicopters. [3]

Merlin helicopter Chinook
Exercise Faraday Field reportedly featured UKSF commandos being inserted by RAF Chinook helicopters (likely from 7 Squadron), supported by Merlins from the Command Helicopter Force. (file photo)
Image by LPhot Dan Rosenbaum © UK MOD / Crown Copyright 2018 | used under open government licence

815 NAS Wildcat helicopters
Wildcat HMA 2 helicopters, likely from 815 NAS Maritime Interdiction Flight, also took part in the exercise. These are typically used in the escort / overwatch role with door gunners and/or snipers on board. (file photo)

815 NAS Wildcat helicopters
A Royal Navy Merlin Mk2 also took part in the training missions, in the ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) and search and rescue role. The helicopter's ISTAR role is enabled via it's Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor. The Merlin Mk2 also carries a powerful maritime search radar. (file photo)
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary Wickline/Released

Related Video

Footage from the exercise showing Chinook and Merlin helicopters.

Video of a Wildcat HMA.2 and Commando Helicopter Force Merlins taking off from the Altcar camp.

2 RAF Chinook HC6 helicopters operating from Altcar Training Camp, Merseyside, 17 January 2019.

Footage of Wildcat HMA.2 and Merlin HM.2 helicopters taken during the exercise.

More info / further reading:

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