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Apache helicopters fire Hellfire missiles at sea

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An unrelated photo of Boeing AH-64D Longbow Apache

LONDON (BNS): British Army Apache helicopters have successfully fired Hellfire missiles against seaborne targets in an exercise near Gibraltar.

The Ministry of Defence in a statement said, a total, 550 30mm rounds and nine radar-guided Hellfire missiles were fired, achieving a 100 per cent strike rate. This was the first time that Hellfire has been launched in the maritime environment.

Major Mike Neville, who commands 656 Squadron onboard HMS Ocean, said, "Today we proved that Apache can operate effectively from a Royal Navy ship, transporting munitions from the ship's magazine, aircraft upload, launch, firing and then recovering to HMS Ocean.

"Once again 656 Squadron is at the leading edge of attack helicopter capability development. We are now well on the way to proving the maritime strike capability in highly complex scenarios."

Commander Jol Woodard, the Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean's Air Group, said, "Today's achievement is a landmark in the integration of the Apache into the maritime domain and is also a very important step in the development of the UK's amphibious capability.

"I have been delighted with the way in which 656 Squadron and their support elements have integrated into the Air Group as a whole and the success of this whole-ship evolution demonstrates just how potent a truly joint Air Group can be."

The Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, said, "This important milestone in Army aviation and amphibious operations demonstrates clearly the versatility of our cutting edge military equipment.

"To see Apache operating to its full capacity at sea reinforces the Government's commitment to shape and equip our Armed Forces to best meet the range of current and future commitments."

656 Squadron and HMS Ocean are part of the Response Force Task Group deployed on Cougar 11, which is a long-planned series of exercises in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

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