Royal Marines in stunning helicopter abseil assault in Gibraltar

Royal Marines swooped on Gibraltar Airport in a stunning display of stealth and skill, abseiling more than 200ft from a helicopter.

Marines from Plymouth-based 42 Commando – experts in pirate and terrorist take-downs – descended heights greater than the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Nelson’s Column in a matter of seconds as they honed their boarding skills.

The commandos dropped from a Wildcat of 847 Naval Air Squadron as they gave a small glimpse of the methods used to take an enemy by surprise in even the most difficult to reach places. 

Major Andy Lacy of 42 Commando’s Support Company, said: “These techniques enable us to quickly insert forces into locations that are difficult to access. Gibraltar offers an excellent opportunity to practise these skills in unfamiliar surroundings.”

This training at Gibraltar’s airport was part of the early phases of the Littoral Strike Group (Experimentation) (LRG(X)) deployment to the Mediterranean, North Africa and Black Sea this autumn, which will see the commando forces of tomorrow forged on operations around the region. 

The contingent from 42 Commando carried out more than 250 descents from the Wildcat, practising helicopter abseiling but also fast roping techniques – methods that are key as the Royal Marines continue to move towards their bold modernisation under the Future Commando Force programme.

42 Commando are specialists in a wide range of maritime operations and provide the Royal Navy with boarding teams, force protection teams and maritime snipers, plus training and advisory teams.

They have joined fellow green berets from 40 Commando, 30 Commando IX and 47 Commando on the LRG(X) deployment and are heading into a busy few months of Future Commando Force work. 

This will see commandos embrace new technology, use new weapons, wear a new uniform and take on new tactics to make best use of their elite skillset in the modern era.

Leading the LRG(X) deployment is Royal Navy flagship HMS Albion, Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon and RFA Lyme Bay. 

The task group will operate across the Mediterranean, North Africa and Black Sea in support of NATO allies and regional partners, while conducting wide-ranging experimentation.

These techniques enable us to quickly insert forces into locations that are difficult to access. Gibraltar offers an excellent opportunity to practise these skills in unfamiliar surroundings.

Major Andy Lacy