RAF And Israeli Airforce Practice Search And Rescue Operations In Mediterranean

Posted on June 14, 2019

84 Squadron, who are specialists in such missions, are known as the ‘Scorpions’ and are the RAF’s last remaining search and rescue squadron.

Formed during the First World War, they have been based around the world but never in the UK.

For the past few decades they have been based at Akrotiri in Cyprus as a helicopter squadron.

Although small, 84 Squadron’s crew boasts great operational experience – a reason why Israel was keen to tap into their knowledge.

But Flight Lieutenant Rob Paul, 84 Squadron pilot, said it was also a learning curve for his crew: “It was good – different airspace, different operating procedures.

“It’s very similar processes except we have very slight twists on those, in terms of what we are trying to achieve and what they are trying to achieve.”

The three-day exercise saw six members from 84 Squadron make the trip from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to Palmachim Air Base near Tel Aviv.

Among the scenarios practised was winching on and off a fast-moving ship involving an Israeli patrol boat.

While a rescue mission to save a downed pilot and a civilian was also recreated.

Flight Sergeant Bart Simpson, who collected the dummy pilot from the Mediterranean waves, said: [There were] two different scenarios – one was if it was civilian so they do not have any survival equipment on and therefore I’m using certain struts and lifting techniques.

“The second one was if it was an aircrew guy or an ejected pilot in which case they’ve got a lifejacket potentially and I’ll use other techniques and different bits of survival equipment to effect the rescue.

“It’s always good to look over the fence sometimes and just broaden your horizons and take on new bits of knowledge or reflect on them and discard it and that’s how we all learn.”

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