Merlin Helicopters Train for Afghanistan in US

#1
Merlin Helicopters Train for Afghanistan
A Royal Air Force C-17 aircraft transports a Merlin helicopter out to the United States Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC) in San Diego
Merlin Helicopters Train for Afghanistan - Monday 24 August 2009

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The Merlin Helicopter Force has commenced a 4 month training exercise in the United States as the final stage of preparation for its end of year deployment to Afghanistan.

The Merlins, from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, will provide vital support to ground operations, increasing the capacity of UK helicopter lift in Afghanistan by a further 25%.

A Royal Air Force Merlin helicopter landing in dusty conditions during Exercise Merlin Vortex

Exercise MERLIN VORTEX will train crews for the unique challenges of the Afghan environment: the ‘hot and high’ conditions and constant threats they will face on a daily basis.

With temperatures soaring to 50oC and rarely dropping below 35oC at night the ‘Hot’ part of the training requirement is met, along with the opportunity to test landing in dusty conditions. ‘High’ training comes in the form of mountain ranges of varying heights, which with the high temperatures means the environment allows the Merlin to operate to the limit of its capabilities, providing outstanding preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

RAF Sergeant Tom Pringle, Merlin Crewman said:

“The environment out here is very challenging but I believe that it will prepare us well for success in Afghanistan. Train hard, fight easy. The facilities are great and the Americans have been very welcoming and supportive.”

RAF Flight Sergeant John Stone is a Merlin Crewman on the Training, Development and Standards Flight:

“To train effectively for survival aspects in Theatre we need to be operating with all the same equipment that we would have on operations. From a tactics point of view I believe that the combination of live firing ranges, to practice self-defence, and representative terrain have enabled us to put together a comprehensive and realistic package of pre-deployment training that is well paced”.

A Royal Air Force C-17 aircraft transports a Merlin helicopter out to the United States Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC) in San Diego

RAF Squadron Leader Dave Morris is Officer Commanding B Flight, 78 Squadron:

“We came out here to undertake ‘Hot and High’ training for Afghanistan. The area provides a wide variety of terrain allowing us to achieve a high standard of instruction in new techniques. The environmental conditions are representative of Afghanistan and the effect of training in this unique location will be to increase the confidence and ability of the crews to a level where they are ready to deploy. You can never be too prepared and there is always more training to come but the lessons we learn out here will allow the Merlin force to deploy with confidence”.

“The entire Merlin Force will be able to experience the highest standards of training in a representative environment. The overall feeling is one of confidence that the training received here will allow the Merlin Force to take up its role in Afghanistan and provide the same outstanding level of support that it gave to ground forces in Iraq”.

Photographs: RAF/MOD Copyright 2009.

Header Image: A Royal Air Force C-17 aircraft transports a Merlin helicopter out to the United States Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC) in San Diego; the US Navy’s main training facility.

Image 1: A Royal Air Force Merlin helicopter landing in dusty conditions during Exercise Merlin Vortex at the United States Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC) in San Diego; the US Navy’s main training facility.

Image 2: A Royal Air Force C-17 aircraft transports a Merlin helicopter out to the United States Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC) in San Diego; the US Navy’s main training facility.
http://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive.cfm?storyid=4CC21A1A-5056-A318-A8BCE2FFC5C4DAD8
 
#5
I'd be surprised if BATUS has the conditions to meet Hot and High....it has a significant affect on the operation of rotory aircraft.

El centro is the normal location for Hot and High, it is one of the few worldwide locations with the correct conditions (or at least in a 'friendly' country)

Not sure the hotals there could be described as Luxury either.

S_R
 
#6
Sympathetic_Reaction said:
I'd be surprised if BATUS has the conditions to meet Hot and High....it has a significant affect on the operation of rotory aircraft.

El centro is the normal location for Hot and High,
it is one of the few worldwide locations with the correct conditions (or at least in a 'friendly' country)

Not sure the hotals there could be described as Luxury either.

S_R

El centro is below sea level. It does have mountains nearby, but I doubt they are as high ASL as afghan though. But I stand to be corrected.
 
#8
Sympathetic_Reaction said:
I'd be surprised if BATUS has the conditions to meet Hot and High....it has a significant affect on the operation of rotory aircraft.
Wiki on BATUS says it's 770m above MSL, that's a bit better than the 22m above MSL in San Diego. As for heat. I'm sure that temps between plus 40C in the summer and minus 20C in the winter are similar to Helmand.
 
#9
StickyEnd said:
El centro is below sea level. It does have mountains nearby, but I doubt they are as high ASL as afghan though. But I stand to be corrected.
Height in an aircraft is the easy bit, the hot is the difficult bit. There is always the ranges near Ridgecrest (which I've forgotten the name of) which have some decent terrain, but but you are reducing the temperatures extremes available. Luckily flying a bit higher can cover most of your training requirements for drills and experience of the aircrafts handling in these conditions.

Obviously if you need to practice close in support, terrain following etc, then there is a balance between the High bit and the Hot bit....as I said there aren't many 'friendly' places you can go to get the Hot bit, let alone the Hot and High bit.

S_R
 
#10
Sympathetic_Reaction said:
StickyEnd said:
Obviously if you need to practice close in support, terrain following etc, then there is a balance between the High bit and the Hot bit....as I said there aren't many 'friendly' places you can go to get the Hot bit, let alone the Hot and High bit.

S_R

South of France, Spain, bits of Italy, Turkey, Oman?

Obviously no chance of a weekend in Las Vegas in these choices and I would imagine the golf is more limited too. :wink:
 
#11
Sympathetic_Reaction said:
StickyEnd said:
El centro is below sea level. It does have mountains nearby, but I doubt they are as high ASL as afghan though. But I stand to be corrected.
Height in an aircraft is the easy bit, the hot is the difficult bit. There is always the ranges near Ridgecrest (which I've forgotten the name of) which have some decent terrain, but but you are reducing the temperatures extremes available. Luckily flying a bit higher can cover most of your training requirements for drills and experience of the aircrafts handling in these conditions.

Obviously if you need to practice close in support, terrain following etc, then there is a balance between the High bit and the Hot bit....as I said there aren't many 'friendly' places you can go to get the Hot bit, let alone the Hot and High bit.

S_R
I am not sure that is true. I think that the air is heated not directly by solar radiation, but by solar energy being absorbed by the ground and then conducted into the atmosphere. If so, it would preclude flying conditions being similar.

Mind you, El Centro is a nice place to be. It has reasonable motels and is handy for San Diego and Nevada. :wink:
 
#12
Oil_Slick said:
South of France, Spain, bits of Italy, Turkey, Oman?

Obviously no chance of a weekend in Las Vegas in these choices and I would imagine the golf is more limited too. :wink:
I'm going to be sad here...but as I have it open here is the list of countries with the correct conditions for the Hot part according to Def-Stan 00-35

USA/Mexico (El Centro)
Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Libya, Sudan (possibly not !!)
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman (not much infrastructure for support and mainly the central zones)
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (all possibly a bit close for 'training')
Australia (you'd complain if they went there as well)

So if you want to find a option out of that lot, where there is a local military airfield with engineering support feel free to suggest it to the RAF - along with hotel recommendations.

S_R
 
#13
StickyEnd said:
I am not sure that is true. I think that the air is heated not directly by solar radiation, but by solar energy being absorbed by the ground and then conducted into the atmosphere. If so, it would preclude flying conditions being similar.

Mind you, El Centro is a nice place to be. It has reasonable motels and is handy for San Diego and Nevada. :wink:
As I said finding conditions for both Hot and High together in a 'friendly' country is difficult, so you try and get the best of either, El Centro is the best location for Hot (it has an airfield there for just that reason), the High bit you cna either fake by flying higher (not ideal but it's a start) or you could fly further north, losing temperature but gaining ground elevation. I assume that they are doing El centro first and possibly moving on (China lake maybe?) for more testing. I know the Merlin Hot and High trials in about 2002/3 were done in two locations in the USA.

S_R
 
#15
Sympathetic_Reaction said:
Oil_Slick said:
South of France, Spain, bits of Italy, Turkey, Oman?

Obviously no chance of a weekend in Las Vegas in these choices and I would imagine the golf is more limited too. :wink:
I'm going to be sad here...but as I have it open here is the list of countries with the correct conditions for the Hot part according to Def-Stan 00-35

USA/Mexico (El Centro)
Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Libya, Sudan (possibly not !!)
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman (not much infrastructure for support and mainly the central zones)
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (all possibly a bit close for 'training')
Australia (you'd complain if they went there as well)

So if you want to find a option out of that lot, where there is a local military airfield with engineering support feel free to suggest it to the RAF - along with hotel recommendations.

S_R

I guess the smiley at the end of the post passed you by?
 
#18
meridian said:
At the risk of repeating myself, where do the Chinook and Lynx squadrons/regiments do their PDT
various places. from scotland. to morroco.
but the best place to practice brown outs ( where the dust cloud rises to a point where you cant see a thing) is afghan, so they keep on top of there drills for hot landing zones in situ.
 
#19
Oil_Slick said:
I guess the smiley at the end of the post passed you by?
No I saw it but have spent the last 4 days working through the Def-Stan for another reason so thought i'd try and make use of it somehow....Anyway Italy would have been my choice rather than EL Centro, the women are better looking.. ;)
 
#20
Sympathetic_Reaction said:
I'd be surprised if BATUS has the conditions to meet Hot and High....it has a significant affect on the operation of rotory aircraft.

El centro is the normal location for Hot and High, it is one of the few worldwide locations with the correct conditions (or at least in a 'friendly' country)

Not sure the hotals there could be described as Luxury either.

S_R
Hot and High, for an Afghan winter? Or will it be another year before they get there?
 

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