VAQ-131 Pilot Selected to Help Stand Up Royal Navy LSO Program

Story Number: NNS120426-28Release Date: 4/26/2012 4:34:00 PM
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By Lt. Josh Lang, Electronic Attack Squadron 131 Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- An EA-6B Prowler pilot and former Naval Air Forces landing signal officer (LSO) was selected to assist the royal Navy to stand up their own LSO program, April 20, in preparation for two new Queen Elizabeth-class supercarriers.

Lt. Cmdr. Pascal Holmes of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131 will soon complete tasking in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and travel to Portsmouth, England, which is home to the royal navy's fleet headquarters as well as their new LSO program.

It has been more than 30 years since the royal navy last had a conventional catapult and arrested-landing aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal (R09), which was decommissioned in early 1979. With the two Queen Elizabeth-class carriers on the way, the royal navy requested assistance from the U.S. Navy for an aviator and LSO with the skill and experience to help establish the Queen Elizabeth program.

The royal navy handpicked Holmes to fill that position based on his background. Holmes first flew the E-2C Hawkeye, qualified to fly the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, and currently flies the Prowler. He completed a tour as a carrier air wing (CVW) LSO and was one of only two force LSOs in the Navy.

Upon arrival, Holmes will be placed in charge of teaching pilots and LSOs how to land on aircraft carriers as well as the responsibilities and duties of the LSO. In addition, he will provide the builders expert advice on the flight deck of Britain's newest carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).

"One of the advantages to this tour will be getting to do what I love most, which is teaching pilots to land on the carrier," Holmes said. "The pilots I will be teaching will be the first group of LSOs, instructors and skippers for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadrons. These pilots will turn around and teach the follow-on pilots who will make up the very first air wing aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth."

Britain is developing its two new carriers with the most technically advanced aircraft landing/recovery equipment to date. They are also requiring stringent training for the first group of tailhook pilots Britain has had in more than 30 years.

"I am very excited to have been given this amazing opportunity to help out the royal navy as they open a new chapter in their already proven naval history," said Holmes. "Helping the Brits build one of the most technologically advanced carriers in the world is definitely an honor.

"This is a double treat for me as it will most likely be my last tour in the Navy," he added. "I will have 23 years by the time I complete this tour, and I couldn't ask for a better one as my last in the Navy."

VAQ-131 is one of nine squadrons that comprise CVW 2, embarked aboard Lincoln, the flagship for Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9.

CSG 9 also includes guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and Destroyer Squadron 9, composed of guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104). CSG 9 is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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 Landing signal officers provide guidance during aircraft recovery.
120423-N-JN612-173 ARABIAN SEA (April 23, 2012) Landing signal officers provide guidance during aircraft recovery aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Abraham Lincoln is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Randolph/Released)
April 26, 2012
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