Duke of York Visits RNAS Yeovilton, UK

HMS Duke of York Visits RNAS Yeovilton, UK

His Royal Highness the Duke of York visited Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton to mark the end of service of the Lynx Mk3 Full Mission Simulator (FMS) having himself first flown in it in 1984.

As the Royal Navy’s Lynx Mk3 helicopters come to the end of their operational lives and the last airframe departs Yeovilton the associated Lynx Mk3 Simulator is also to be withdrawn from service.

The ‘Box’ as its ‘affectionately’ known has played a crucial part in ensuring that Lynx crews have been ready for anything that embarked aviation can throw at them for over three decades.

The guest of honour for the occasion was His Royal Highness the Duke of York, who flew the last sortie in the Simulator alongside Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) John Hartley, one of the pilot instructors.

Lt Harley said:

“It was a great pleasure to have such a senior member of the Royal Family to share the occasion and particularly apt, due to the Duke’s long association with the Lynx Simulator.

“His Royal Highness trained in the Simulator in 1984 prior to his tour in HMS Brazen, then again in 1989 as he took over as the Flight Commander in HMS Campletown.

“Finally, over a decade after his first trip in the Simulator, the Duke of York was flying it again as he prepared to become the Senior Pilot of 815 Naval Air Squadron.”

The Simulator has had a remarkable life, introduced at the very early stages of Lynx flying in the Royal Navy and still utilised some 33 years later. It entered service with the Royal Navy at RNAS Yeovilton in April 1980.

It proved its worth in training additional crews in preparation for the Falkland Islands conflict of April-May 1982 and was instrumental in bringing the Sea Skua anti-ship missile system into service in time for the events in the South Atlantic.

Following its move with the Royal Navy’s Lynx helicopters to RNAS Portland in August 1982, the simulator was upgraded to include a visual system among other cutting technological upgrades providing a much-enhanced training environment.

It’s in operational flying training was far superior where previously all of a student’s operational training had been conducted in the helicopter.

Jumping ahead some 17 years the Royal Navy’s Lynx helicopters were moved back to RNAS Yeovilton as RNAS Portland closed and the simulator moved too.

With the introduction of the Lynx Mk8 into service with the Royal Navy, it was initially anticipated that such an antiquated simulator would have had its day.

This was not the case with the Mk3 aircraft continuing in service the Mk3 simulator has more than earned its keep and to this day has been the bedrock of any pilot or observer’s malfunction handling or instrument flying.

Crews trained in the Mk3 simulator have gone on to fly all around the world in all seven continents and been involved in numerous conflicts, most notably the Falklands Conflict of 1982.

More recently Lynx crews have had remarkable success against piracy off the Horn of Africa as well as numerous high-profile drugs interceptions in the Caribbean and to this day remain deployed around the Globe 365 days of the year.

In its 33 years of service in the Royal Navy, the Mk3 simulator has flown in excess of 75,000 hours, achieving over 40,000 missions and been directly involved in the successful training of more than 400 RN Lynx Pilots and 300 RN Lynx Observers.

It was also utilised by the Army Air Corps for a period when their own simulator was undergoing an upgrade and has also been used by aircrew from foreign nations, either as part of an exchange programme, or else for contracted training.

Countries involved include Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal and the United States.

Also present to say a fond farewell to the Simulator today and share in its history were previous Officers in Charge (OICs), current staff, industry partners from Thales and CAE and students from the last training course to fly in the Simulator.

Naval Today Staff, April 2, 2013; Image: Royal Navy