09/17/2013: During COUGAR 13, a MV-22 had landed on a British Warship and operated by a British pilot.
September 16, 2013, UK exchange pilot LT “Odd Job” Wotten operating with VMX-22 “bounced off” of HMS Illustrious.
Credit Photos: 26th MEU:9/16/13
According to the Royal Navy:
Cougar is the Royal Navy’s long planned deployment of 2013, testing the ability of the newly-formed UK Response Force Task Group to deal with major events thousands of miles from home.
The deployment will see elements of the UK’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) – the naval force formed under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review – hone its world-class maritime skills thousands of miles from home through exercises with a number of key allies.
Four Royal Navy warships, the Lead Commando Group from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and elements of Naval Air Squadrons will be supported by five vessels from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as they head out to the Mediterranean for a three-month training deployment – 2013’s key workout of the UK’s high-readiness task force.
This is the third time the deployment has taken place, after Cougars ’11 and ’12, with its aim to demonstrate the ability to operate a highly effective maritime force anywhere in the world to protect UK interests.
The Task Group is able to conduct simultaneously a range of operations from deterring adversaries and maritime security to international engagement and supporting regional stability.
Its units can operate independently on discrete tasks or as a single entity. Most importantly, it is an adaptable force that is able to work jointly with Army and Royal Air Force assets, other government agencies and partner nations when required.
After a number of planned port visits in the Mediterranean, the first major exercise for the force will be Albanian Lion, in the Adriatic. Personnel will work with Albania’s armed forces, building on a similar exercise last year, with the goal to put the Lead Commando Group ashore within a high tempo scenario and sustain it as it moves inland.
The ships will then sail through the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Gulf where the focus will transfer to the series of exercises with UK allies in the Gulf region; alongside Army and RAF units.
Commodore McAlpine and his staff will command from the nation’s flagship HMS Bulwark. Alongside Brigadier Stuart Birrell (Commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines) he will choreograph the efforts of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors, Royal Marine Commandos and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm personnel.
Joining Bulwark will be Portsmouth-based helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious and frigates HMS Montrose (Plymouth) and HMS Westminster (Portsmouth) to provide escort duties, as well as undertake ongoing counter-piracy operations outside the exercise programme.
HMS Montrose is also due to reprise her role from Cougar ‘12 as the launch pad for small Royal Marines reconnaissance parties, which are sent ashore to scout the lie of the land and ‘enemy’ forces.
The Royal Marines will be embarking HMS Bulwark, RFA Mounts Bay and RFA Lyme Bay: the nation’s Lead Commando Group, including 42 Commando, elements of 30 Commando IX Group, and the Commando Logistics Regiment who will meet all the supply and medical needs and 16 Vikings of the Corps’ Armoured Support Group.
A number of Army Commandos from 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, 24 Commando Engineer Regiment and 17 Port and Maritime Regiment will also deploy as part of the Lead Commando Group.
The following assets will deploy as part of Cougar ’13:
- HMS Bulwark
- HMS Illustrious
- RFA Mounts Bay
- RFA Lyme Bay
- HMS Montrose
- HMS Westminster
- RFA Fort Austin
- RFA Fort Victoria
- RFA Cardigan Bay
- RFA Diligence
- 42 Commando
- 30 Commando IX Group
- Commando Logistics Regiment
- 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery (Army)
- 24 Commando Engineer Regiment (Army)
- 17 Port and Maritime Regiment RLC (Army)