Navy drone team support commando fliers on exercise

The Royal Navy’s experts in drone technology tested new kit as they get ready to deploy on operations.

700X Naval Air Squadron, the home of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS) in the navy, left their base in Cornwall to take part in Exercise Merlin Storm and put their new Phantom Flight equipment to work.

The trials, in south Wales, saw 700X integrate their drones in all aspects of the exercise from the littoral (shoreline) to the battlespace providing airborne surveillance.

It comes as the wings of the Royal Marines, Commando Helicopter Force, have been preparing should they be needed in the case of a major hurricane strike in the Caribbean.

They are on standby to head to the region, bolstering a Royal Navy-led task group already on patrol.

As part of their preparations, 700X delivered support as they continue what has already been a busy year.

The team learnt a great deal about integrating Remotely Piloted Air Systems within the Commando Helicopter Force construct.

Lieutenant Commander Justin Matthews, Commanding Officer of 700X NAS

Lieutenant Commander Justin Matthews, Commanding Officer of 700X NAS, said: “The team learnt a great deal about integrating Remotely Piloted Air Systems within the Commando Helicopter Force construct.

“They coordinated with unattended ground sensors, recce’d buildings for troops in order to help prepare the battlespace and helped command with their situational awareness, thereby allowing more effective orders to troops on the ground.

“They also gave a brief about the type of RPAS that our newly formed 700X Phantom Flight will soon deploy on Royal Navy operations at sea, and how the new Class 1C capability could be employed.”

The work of 700X NAS is part of the Royal Navy’s commitment to utilising the latest technology and getting it onto the frontline of operations.

Based at RNAS Culdrose, the squadron has developed Predannack airfield, on the Lizard Peninsula, as a training facility for testing and innovating with the latest unmanned systems.

As well as providing training courses across defence, testing the latest systems for use on the front line, with Phantom Flight, 700X will also now be able to send deployable flights on operations at sea or supporting in the littoral environment.