British Army Wildcat helicopters have successfully used a powerful coded laser to designate a target for two Hellfire missiles launched from an Apache attack helicopter at a military range in West Wales.
The Wildcat Helicopter Sqn, based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset, is part of a specialist Aviation Reconnaissance Force. This unit is specially trained to find targets deep in enemy territory, which allows them to coordinate attacks using a wide variety of weapons, including Attack Helicopters, Artillery and Fixed Wing close air support.
Two Hellfire missiles were launched from separate Apache attack helicopters from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, based in Wattisham, Suffolk. The guided missiles followed the Wildcat laser to a target mounted on a barge around 6 miles out to sea. Both missiles hit their designated targets, demonstrating the substantial capability and the effects of using Wildcat and Apache helicopters in tandem.
The Wildcat helicopters also demonstrated their significant range, flying the 350 nautical mile round trip from Somerset to Aberporth, Wales, the only place in the UK cleared to launch the Hellfire missiles.
The exercise is the latest demonstration of what the Wildcat can bring to UK Defence and is part of the newly establish Attack Reconnaissance Team (ART), allowing Wildcat and Apache helicopters to work closely together to simultaneously find, track and strike the enemy. This new concept brings together the unique skillsets of the reconnaissance helicopter pilots, trained to seek out enemy locations, with the powerful effect of the Apache attack helicopter.
The Wildcat helicopter, based at 659 Squadron, 1 Regiment Army Air Corps is the newest front-line helicopter in the UK Armed Forces and boasts an impressive selection of world-leading military technology.