860 Squadron exists today (June 15) 75 years. The squadron is now the operational NH90 squadron of the Defense Helicopter Command. On 15 June 1943, a group of Dutch people laid the basis for aircraft squadron 860 at the Scottish Donibristle airfield. This had to cope with the German U-boat threat on the Atlantic Ocean.
The crews flew with the Fairey Swordfish aircraft from so-called Merchant Aircraft Carriers, converted cargo ships with a flight deck of about 150 by 15-20 meters. The Netherlands did with 2 Shell tankers: the Gadila and Macoma, good for every 4 Swordfish aircraft.
The Swordfish could start and land without a slingshot from the short, narrow deck. This thanks to the low take-off and landing speed. In addition to a torpedo, rockets or 4 250 pound bombs, the Swordfish was equipped with a rear-facing Vickers tail gun. A forward-facing Browning machine gun could fire through the propeller field. The 3 crew members, pilot, observer, telegraph operator / shooter, were in an open cockpit. As a result, despite their protective clothing, they were exposed to severe hardships in the winter. By the end of the war, the men of 860 squadron had escorted 36 convoys across the Atlantic. No ship was lost.
Focus the same
Today, the 860 squadron operates with the NH90 maritime combat helicopter. The focus is still on surface warfare and submarine control. For this the device has modern sensors such as radar, sonar, sonar buoys and a forward looking infra red-viewer. In addition, the heli has weapons against submarines and surface targets.
Last year, 860 squadron was successfully deployed during submarine combat exercises and anti-drug operations in the Caribbean. They also provided emergency relief to St Maarten and Dominica after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. At this moment the 860 squadron has an onboard helicopter on board of Zr.Ms. Holland in the Caribbean and on board Zr.Ms. Van Speijk for the Dynamic Mongoose exercise. 2 units are on the point of boarding Zr.Ms. De Ruyter (SNMG) and Zr.Ms. Friesland (station ship Caribbean area).
Because of the many units abroad, the birthday is only celebrated on 20 September.