Royal Marines Train Abseiling From AH1 Wildcat During Littoral Combat Strike Group Stop in Gibraltar

HMS Dragon during the port call in Gibraltar. (All images: “DM Parody")

Wildcat of 847 Naval Air Squadron conducted training at Gibraltar’s airport as part of the early phases of the Littoral Strike Group (Experimentation) (LRG(X)) deployment.

HMS Albion, HMS Dragon and RFA Lyme Bay called into Gibraltar for a brief stop in Gibraltar on their three-month deployment to the Mediterranean, North Africa and Black Sea, on Sept. 21, 2020.

Named the Littoral Response Group (Experimentation) (LRGX) or Littoral Combat Strike Group, the deployment will test the new concepts of the Littoral Strike Group (which replaces the UK’s long-standing Amphibious Task Group) and shape the Future Commando Force (FCF) – the evolution of the Royal Marines into a hi-tech raiding and strike force – both of which are at the heart of the transformation of the Royal Navy.

HMS Albion.

In addition to the ships, the Future Commando Force includes elements from the specialist raiding units of 47 Commando, Marines of 42 and 40 Commando based in Plymouth and Taunton, and the intelligence experts of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group (Plymouth), and Wildcat helicopters from 847 and 815 Naval Air Squadrons from the Commando Helicopter Force at RNAS Yeovilton.

The AH1 Wilcat during the training at Gibraltar. (All images: David Parody)

During the deployment, LRGX will also support NATO’s Mediterranean security operation Sea Guardian and conduct exercises in Cyprus – Olympus Warrior and Autonomous Advance Force 3, a test of cutting-edge kit and how it can be exploited by commandos to deal with the very latest of threats.

And activity in the Black Sea will include a series of training exercises and port visits to demonstrate the UK’s support for regional security and freedom of movement in Black Sea waters.

Equipped with the AugustaWestland Wildcat AH1 combat helicopter, 847 Naval Air Squadron provides reconnaissance, air support and anti-armour capabilities to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.

Whilst in Gibraltar the Commandos took advantage to practice their abseiling and fast rope skills off the AH1 Wildcat helicopters at RAF Gibraltar, night raiding and carrying underslung loads.

Sunset slingload training for a Royal Navy Wildcat.

“These techniques enable us to quickly insert forces into locations that are difficult to access. Gibraltar offers an excellent opportunity to practise these skills in unfamiliar surroundings,” Major Andy Lacy of 42 Commando’s Support Company, said in an official release.

Interestingly, the contingent from 42 Commando carried out more than 250 descents abseiling more than 200ft from the helicopter of 847 NAS. Based at RNAS Yeovilton, 847 NAS is a Royal Naval establishment, with helicopters drawn from an Army Air Corps pool and flown by Royal Marines and Royal Navy aircrews.

The images in this post were taken by The Aviationist‘s contributor David Parody, who also provided additional details about LRGX.

Commandos dropped from a Wildcat of 847 Naval Air Squadron as they gave a small glimpse of the methods used to take an enemy by surprise.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.