Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin has visited Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, home of the Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopters.
The Minister visited some of the aircraft and met with personnel stationed at the base. RNAS Culdrose is the heart of the naval air fleet, where naval aviators train. The base is an important part of the programme, which will deliver the two Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever built in the UK and from which the UK’s new F-35B Lightning II jets will fly.
After visiting the Merlin training facility, the Defence Minister saw the Dummy Flight Deck, designed to train QEC aircraft handlers among others, where she witnessed live training exercises. The skilled aircrew and engineers at the base specialise in anti-submarine warfare and Airborne Surveillance and Control.
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin, said:
“It was an honour to visit one of Europe’s largest helicopter bases and meet the men and women behind its success. The state-of-the art facilities are helping to test and safeguard our maritime aircraft capacity.”
“The base provides 3,000 civilian and military jobs and is one of the biggest single-site employers in Cornwall, pumping £100m into the local economy every year, bringing welcome regional investment.”
Many of the Merlins based at Culdrose will be fitted with the Crowsnest system, as announced recently in a £269 million deal. The system will act as the eyes and ears for the Royal Navy’s ships, providing long range air, maritime and land detection and tracking capability. Crowsnest is an important step in the ambitious carrier programme, which will be vital to protect the new vessels.