Thursday, September 24, 2009

Royal Navy Sea Kings 'bag' intelligence over Helmand

The Royal Navy's unique airborne surveillance and control helicopters, known as 'Baggers', have recently deployed to Helmand for the first time, where they are detecting, following and intercepting insurgent activity.

The Mk7 helicopters are known as Baggers thanks to the large grey 'bag' which contains the aircraft's state-of-the-art radar.

Primarily used in the maritime surveillance role, the helicopter's powerful onboard sensors also enable it to provide valuable battlefield reconnaissance and targeting information at particular times in land operations, and in May this year Sea King Mk7s from 854 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) were deployed to Afghanistan.

After a month acclimatising to conditions in Camp Bastion and exercising with allied forces in theatre, the Baggers and support personnel from 854 NAS were sent aloft on missions from the middle of June onwards.

Commander Matt Avison, Commander Sea King Force, said:

"The job is to throw a light into areas which are regarded as a black hole - vast areas outside the 'Green Zone' in Helmand - and give the commanders on the ground an idea of what is going on.

"Almost every sortie has produced useful information and there have been many - and significant - results."

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