Saturday, 5 December 2015

And now on to the Gulf

I learnt a great deal about  Gulf politics when researching for my novel 'Arapaho'  and now I find that I'm going to have to write about it for real.  Its the longest running military operation that the Lynx has been involved in.  Starting in 1980, the Armilla patrol was designed to protect shipping in the region when the Iran Iraq war started and there has been a naval presence there ever since - with two Gulf wars just to break the monotony.  Now named Operation 'Kipion' for some arcane reason it has meant that a Lynx carrying ship has had continuous presence there for over 35 years.  Because of this I am going to dedicate a complete section of the new book to these operations.  Because of the unique nature of both the climate and the threat from both sides in the war, a number of unique modifications have been made to the aircraft over the years, all of which will be covered.  One in particular, I always wanted to play with was the Helicopter Machine Gun Pod which was a forward firing half inch cannon fitted to a weapon station.  The little red button on the cyclic stick gave up its role as the release for the load lifting hook and became a real 'dacadcadacadacadacadaca' button.    Some readers may recognise that I lifted the idea for my book 'Sea Skimmer' but I never got to play with it for real.

Its not well known but at the start of Gulf War One, the Iraqi navy was quite active with small warships and minelayers.  The US navy had a real problem as they did not have any weapons that could deal with this threat without massive overkill.  Step in the Lynx with its Sea Skua missiles.  Two aircraft effectively sank the whole Iraqi navy although little was ever made of it in the press.  Sometimes I despair of the RN PR people.  Had it been the RAF they would all have been given VCs and there would be endless TV documentaries about it.  However, I  have the first hand accounts of the guys who flew the missions so can hopefully redress the balance a little.  I am also hoping to interview the crew of HMS Duncan's Lynx who are just back from the Gulf to get a current and first hand account of what is going on out there now.  Should be interesting.

A Mark 8 Lynx with a Sea Skua keeping the 'peace' in the Gulf.

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