Upgraded Crowsnest system deployed with Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group

Source: Defence Equipment & Support

The Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group has been deployed with the most advanced version of the Crowsnest Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) system yet.


Having achieved Initial Operating Capability earlier this summer, the “eyes of the fleet” are being operated from two Merlin Mk2 helicopters accompanying HMS Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the fleet. A further three Merlin helicopters performing Maritime Patrol will also form part of the Strike Group.

The UK flagship left Portsmouth last week to head north, leading a task group of partner nations and exercising her F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters and Merlins.



Flying more than a mile above the carrier strike group, the ASaC aircraft use their radars, lowered underneath the fuselage in a domed bag – which earns them the nickname ‘Baggers’ in the rest of the Navy – to look ‘over the horizon’.

The helicopters’ highly-trained crews search for possible air and surface threats – and can be used to coordinate defence and strike operations.

Crowsnest is delivered by Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor, Thales UK and Leonardo Helicopters.



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