Britain preparing to send Apaches, Merlins to Yemen

The Telegraph has revealed that Britain is preparing to send Apache and Merlin helicopters into Yemen to evacuate civilians and the diplomatic community.

Apache pilots training at the main helicopter base in Wattisham in Suffolk have also been secretly passed maps of the country that have been downloaded onto their laptops.

An Army Air Corps source said that in the last few weeks without explanation “maps of Yemen have appeared on our mission planning system”. At least two Apaches could be sent to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Cardigan Bay or Fort Victoria, which are currently stationed off Yemen.

Three Navy Merlin helicopters have been also been “stripped out” of their anti-submarine equipment to be ready to help. The Telegraph understands that the aircraft will only be used to evacuate the British ambassador and his staff, as well as the 30 man military training team helping Yemeni special forces.

The AH-64 Apaches would be expected to escort the Merlins to the capital Sana’a, one of a number of cities where there have already been clashes between government forces, troops loyal to a general who has defected and tribal militias.They might require desert refuelling, and it is believed part of the reconnaissance mission was to find a suitable rendezvous spot. The helicopters would also be expected to suppress anti-aircraft weapons with their Hellfire missiles.

There are still an estimated 500 British citizens still in Yemen despite a Foreign Office warning urging all nationals “to leave now”.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “As a matter of routine, military forces deploy on operations and exercises with a wide range of mapping and location data.”

Source: The Telegraph


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