In an incredible display of flying prowess, a Chinook helicopter delivered 4 critical components of radar equipment to Rock Gun, a key step in RAF Gibraltar’s upgrade to its Air Traffic Management systems. The fragile equipment was flown to the Upper Rock by experienced aircrew from 28 Squadron, RAF Odiham.
The air operation was in support of Programme Marshall, UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) programme to upgrade and support air traffic management capability across 65 units in the UK and around the globe. RAF Gibraltar’s Air Traffic infrastructure at Rock Gun will benefit from this investment, with an enhanced air traffic picture and improved system monitoring and remote management.
The four underslung loads that the Chinook delivered were components of the new STAR-NG Radar, including radar units and drive mechanism. Also flown to the top of the Rock was a new navigational beacon.
RAF Gibraltar’s Station Commander, Wing Commander Nel Doherty, paid testament to the skill of the teams involved in the successful lift.
“I am genuinely delighted at the manner in which this difficult task has been achieved. As always, the Rock poses its own set of unique challenges, which makes a like-for-like replacement trickier than normal.”
“However, a talented and very broad team have ensured that all safety considerations were in hand, and that disruption to the people of Gibraltar was minimised. I’d like to thank them for their patience. We expect that today’s activity will be remembered by many for quite some years to come.”
It is hoped that the radar will be operational in September 2022 after a period of verification and testing. Controllers will continue to use the Watchman radar until then.
Recently, 28 Squadron has provided tactical air transport to front-line troops in Afghanistan. The Squadron operates the Chinook helicopter, an extremely capable and highly versatile support helicopter. It can carry up to 55 troops or up to 10 tonnes of mixed cargo.
RAF Gibraltar personnel were supported by specialists from the UK, including those from the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit who prepared and tested the underslung loads. Overseeing the various teams were the Project Officers from Aquila and Thales, who form part of the delivery team for Programme Marshall.
The Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron was delighted to have taken full ownership of HMS Cutlass.
HMS Cutlass has been in Gibraltar since November 21 and has been undertaking key sea trials in order to be presented to the RNGS.
Cutlass, built by Merseyside-based Marine Specialised Technology, is a smaller, faster and more agile patrol boat that has been specifically designed with Gibraltar and BGTW in mind. The vessel can reach 40 knots compared to the previous 20 knots from HMS Dasher and HMS Pursuer. Cutlass has modern optical and infra-red systems, enabling her to identify and track potential threats at range. Unlike Dasher and Pursuer, many of the systems on board are autonomous which aids the Crew in her operation, maintenance and response to any unforeseen incidents.
“We are delighted that HMS Cutlass has proven her capability during the manufacturers trials and she is now ready to begin the Royal Navy safety and readiness checks,” said the ship’s first Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Adam Colman.
“She increases the Squadron’s capability in providing maritime security and demonstrating UK sovereignty of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters”.
The Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron will begin a series of trials, exercises and training supported by Flag Officer Sea Training in order to generate the vessel and her crew to full operational capability in the Spring.
A spokesman for MST said, “Marine Specialised Technology is extremely honoured to have been asked to deliver the Royal Navy Patrol Launch project. This is the first project to be launched which is a result of MST’s partnership with BMT Global Limited who assisted in the design phase of these two prestigious states of the art crafts, and everyone is delighted with the results.”
“The transition of Cutlass to the Royal Navy is an extremely proud moment for MST and all of its employees who have worked very hard to ensure this project has been the great success it is.”
Defence Guard Security Officer Paul Hazell was lost for words when he was asked to head into the training wing for a routine meeting and was awarded a Chief of Police Commendation from Rob Allen in a recent ceremony.
Paul, father of three, was in the North Barrier Patrol room in the early hours of the morning when he noticed an individual driving onto the airfield. He quickly called the Airfield Mobile Unit who immediately attended and detained the individual.
Chief of Police Rob Allen said, “His professionalism and exemplary service delivery whilst on duty at the Airfield during the early hours of the morning, when his alertness and swift response led to the apprehension of an individual who had trespassed onto the Airfield.
“That is exactly what we want from the Defence Guard Service and it is a perfect example of your professionalism.”
“It has come as a tremendous surprise”, commented Mr Hazell. “I don’t know what to say. This award means a great deal to me.”