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Culdrose pilots back home to families for Christmas

Culdrose pilots back home to families for Christmas

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 2:18pm 5th December 2019. (Updated at 9:14am 6th December 2019)

Pilots from a Cornish Navy base have returned home to their families for Christmas.

A flight from 814 Naval Air Squadron, known as The Flying Tigers, returned home to RNAS Culdrose in Helston on Tuesday afternoon.

They had been embarked on HMS Northumberland, one of HMS Queen Elizabeth's escorts, for three months in the USA, along with 820 and 1700 Naval Air Squadrons.

RNAS Culdrose flying tigers return home

The aircraft carrier sailed from the UK in August, along with her escorts HMS Dragon, HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce, to conduct Operational Tests with UK F-35B jets from the UK Lightning Force for the very first time.

The tests included mission briefs, preparation of the jets, including arming them using the ship's Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling System (HMWHS), launching, fighting the mission (including weapons drops) and recovery back to the ship. 

The culmination was a four-ship launch, with four UK Lightnings launched from the deck within seconds of each other to fight their mission. 

RNAS Culdrose flying tigers return home

Supporting the Strike Group units throughout were Merlin Mk2 helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron based out of Cornwall's RNAS Culdrose, providing anti-submarine protection and search and rescue capability and 1700 NAS helping to manage the flight deck. 

Concurrently F-35Bs from the US Marine Corps flew to and from the ship, exercising their processes ahead of a detachment deploying alongside UK Lightning Force jets on the ship's first operational deployment in 2021.

At the same time two of  HMS Queen Elizabeth's escorts, HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce, returned to warm welcomes in Devonport, Plymouth. 

The rest of the Culdrose team will travel home to Helston later this week.

RNAS Culdrose flying tigers return home

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