The UK Royal Navy has installed a new weapons loading system trainer at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset.
A replica of the AW159 Wildcat helicopter, the platform will prepare naval airborne personnel to load and attach various weapons systems to the rotorcraft.
Instructors can also use it to simulate flight-related errors and faults.
“It’s a great asset – and it has greatly enhanced our training. When [trainees] move on to work on a live aircraft, they have seen it before. It fills them with confidence,” Wildcat Training Center Senior Naval Instructor Lt. Cmdr. Joe Keane said.
‘Great Training Aid’
Training with the Wildcat replica is offered as a nine-day course comprising theoretical and practical training and written exams.
The course focuses on the defensive aids suite, chaff, flares, and 50-caliber heavy machine guns.
In weapons attachment sessions, trainees can practice with capabilities such as Sea Venom missiles, Martlet missiles, and Sting Ray torpedoes, which are much easier to integrate onto Wildcat choppers than the older Sea Skua missiles.
Two trainees per month undergo the course using the Wildcat replica. The platform adds to two existing replica helicopters used for engineering and avionics training.
“It’s a great training aid – it really does enhance our training,” Naval Air Instructor Ryan Jackson said.
“The trainees who come through here are like sponges – they want to absorb knowledge. They want to make sure they are ready when the time comes. Train here, fight easily.”