Big birds in the Angus skies have been flying elite Royal Marines to battlecamp in a new era of commando operations for the Royal Navy.
The distinctive Bell Boeing V-22 Ospreys have caught the attention of Angus residents as RM Condor personnel embark on a three-month mission to the North Atlantic and the Baltic.
The men from the Arbroath base are among more than 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines taking part in the first deployment of the Littoral Response Group (North) task group.
It is the first of two forces centred around Royal Marines and amphibious ships that will regularly carry out operations in areas of interest to the UK, providing reassurance to allies and deterring potential adversaries.
In the coming months they will be involved in US-led exercises in Norway and participate in NATO’s Baltops, the largest multinational exercise in the Baltic Sea.
The task group is made up of amphibious assault ship HMS Albion and landing dock RFA Mounts Bay.
It also includes Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster, Wildcat helicopters from 847 Naval Air Squadron, based at Yeovilton and 30 Commando personnel alongside their 45 Cdo comrades.
Lethal Commando force
Captain Simon Kelly, task group commander and Commanding Officer of HMS Albion, said: “The Littoral Response Group will be training alongside our NATO allies and regional partners on our deployment into the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea region this spring.
Landing craft ➡️ ocean ➡️ beach ✅
— Commander Littoral Strike Group (COMLSG) (@ComdLittoralSG) May 11, 2021
“With two major exercises, including the 50th anniversary of NATO’s Baltops, it is shaping up to be a busy deployment.
“We are excited to be part of the development and delivery of the vanguard Littoral Response Group, as announced in the recent integrated review, which will project a more sophisticated, persistently engaged and lethal commando force.”
45 Cdo posted a video of the VTOL aircraft taking off from Angus.
And that's Yankee Company off to their Battlecamp. This week the Strike Companies will be working up the skills and drills required of a Littoral Response Group. @RoyalMarines @ComdLittoralSG @USMCFEA#UKResponseGroup #NATO pic.twitter.com/Bxkjw7syuQ
— 45 Commando RM (@45CdoGp) May 11, 2021
They Tweeted: “And that’s Yankee Company off to their Battlecamp.
“This week the Strike Companies will be working up the skills and drills required of a Littoral Response Group.”
For many of the sailors and marines, this is their first military deployment after training.
Littoral Response Group (North) deploys at the same time as the UK Carrier Strike Group, as they prepare to work alongside NATO allies and regional partners in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Indo-Pacific regions.
Under plans announced in the recent defence review, there will eventually be two Littoral Response Groups regularly deployed in regions of strategic importance to the UK.
One will have a focus on European waters and the other will look to the east and south of the Suez Canal.
They are designed to put the UK’s commando forces in forward positions, where they will be able to react quickly to any crises but also continually work with allies.
The Royal Navy said it is part of the Future Commando Force modernisation, which returns Royal Marines to raiders from the sea, equips them for a new era of combat and places them in forward positions important to UK security.
Day and night operations have been taking place off the Angus coast in recent days as part of the task force preparations, with familiar visitor HMS Albion on the horizon.
In March 2020, she berthed off the coast of Arbroath for 350 Royal Marines to disembark following nearly two months deep in the Arctic Circle as part of the multinational Cold Response 2020 exercise involving some 14,000 military personnel.