THE most potent helicopter in Britain’s arsenal returned to the flight deck of HMS Illustrious as Apache gunship crews honed their skills at sea.
Three Apaches from 656 Squadron Army Air Corp joined the Portsmouth-based ship to refresh their knowledge following a succession of strikes against pro-government targets in Libya, when the helicopters were launched from the deck of HMS Ocean.
With Ocean undergoing maintenance following her exertions last year, Illustrious has stepped into the fold and is now at a few days’ notice to sail anywhere in the world.
The Apaches will depart before Lusty heads north to lead the UK’s input to Cold Response – Nato winter war games in northern Norway.
The ship will serve as the command ship for Maj Gen Ed Davis, Commandant General Royal Marines, who will be directing the movements of Allied warships during the Nato exercise in freezing temperatures.