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  • Writer's pictureAyrshire Daily News

825 Squadron Wildcats Impress with Dynamic Drills at Prestwick

Everyone around Ayrshire is familiar with Royal Navy helicopters. They have been based at, or using, Prestwick Airport for decades.

This week we noticed some unusual types of helicopters so Ayrshire Daily News decided to investigate, writes aviation reporter Doug Maclean.

Photo: Kai Brown/Ayrshire Daily News

825 Naval Air Squadron, which is normally based at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton in Somerset, have detached to the former HMS Gannet at Prestwick Airport to put their student Pilots and Observers to the test in the beautiful but challenging scenery of Scotland.

I asked Lt Michael Vivian of 825 Squadron to explain what the Wildcats were doing at Prestwick. He said, “Operating the Wildcat HMA Mk 2 aircraft students have been practising a range of skills from basic radar and sensor work, formation flights and up to high-end warfighting scenarios developed by our instructors to prepare them for Frontline operations such as those faced by crews in the Red Sea.”

The rugged Wildcat looks the part of a fighting machine. Operating at about 160 mph these versatile, multi-role helicopters operate from the frigates and destroyers of the Royal Navy and provide immense firepower and a wide range of technological advancements.

Photo: Kai Brown/Ayrshire Daily News

They have a range of 420 nautical miles and replaced the Lynx helicopter. It has a more powerful engine that allows the Wildcat to be flown in extreme weather conditions all year round. It performs a range of tasks, such as anti-surface warfare, force protection and counter-piracy.

Lt Vivian said, “Operating in the incredible landscapes around Prestwick gives students access to open ocean, littoral lochs as well as inland training areas making it the perfect place to put all of their skills to the test.”

Our ace photographers caught the Wildcats coming and going from Prestwick this week.

Kai Brown snapped a Wildcat air taxiing past a massive US Air Force C5 Galaxy and Eddie Wallace added a range of other Wildcat pictures all taken at Prestwick.

Photo: Eddie Wallace/Ayrshire Daily News

The Wildcats come on these exercises 2 or even 3 times a year and are a most welcome addition to the many different aircraft using Prestwick 24 hours a day. No wonder we say Prestwick is the Heart of Scottish Aviation.

Photo: Royal Navy


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