In 2010, the Brazilian Navy participated in the Joint Warrior 101 exercise off the coast of Scotland, at the Royal Navy’s invitation. The frigate Independência (Amazon class) had an embarked air detachment equipped with a Super Lynx multi-mission helicopter belonging to the 1st Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter Squadron, headquartered at the São Pedro da Aldeia Naval Air Base in the state of Rio de Janeiro, in the Brazilian southeast.
Participation in this international exercise trained Brazilian crews for operations as part of international task forces, like the one currently under way in the waters off the Lebanese coast, where the Brazilian frigate União is the flagship of the United Nations mission in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL. This mission incorporates an embarked air detachment equipped with a Super Lynx aircraft on constant alert at fixed flight stations.
The Westland Super Lynx is one of the most versatile aircraft ever made. Its speed and endurance in flights over the open ocean and in convoy operations, equipped with special systems and weaponry, make it one of the most lethal and successful weapons ever used in maritime combat.
The Brazilian Navy’s Lynx Squadron is always active and has crews trained to execute specific types of missions. At the time it was created, in 1978, it had five AH-11 (Lynx) aircraft, Brazil being the first foreign customer to receive that model.
During the 1990s, Brazil acquired nine new, updated Lynx aircraft, known as Super Lynxes (AH-11A). With the arrival of the Super Lynxes and the updates to the older Lynx models, the aviation unit was designated the 1st Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter Squadron (HA-1), which in 2010 reached the significant milestone of over 57,000 hours of flying time.
Starting from the time a pilot joins the squadron, there are three types of qualifications: pilot qualified in model (PQM); aircraft operational pilot (POA); and aircraft operational commander (COA). When a pilot becomes an operational commander, he can execute any type of ship-based and land-based mission. In an operation like Joint Warrior, the pilot receives information on how he will be utilized, and during the Atlantic crossing, the crew begins to study how they will work together, initiating preparations for the missions to be carried out.
Joint Warrior is a different operation; for this reason, it is necessary to study all aspects related to it. Lynx missions worth highlighting include reconnaissance, the launch of MK 46 torpedoes and anti-submarine depth charges, the ability to execute over-the-horizon targeting (OTHT) procedures, and coordinated attack plans against surface targets, as well as fast-roping and the transportation of combat divers.
Extremely important for the mission success of the Brazilian Navy’s corvettes and frigates, the HA-1 Squadron can be considered the “eyes and the ears of the fleet,” relying on military personnel trained to engage in combat by day or by night, in any kind of weather, and wherever needed.