Wales

Nato military flights surprise over Cardiff and Newport

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Media captionA viewer's video of an RAF Merlin helicopter over gardens in Canton, Cardiff

A series of training flights by military helicopters and other aircraft ahead of the NATO summit startled residents in Newport and Cardiff on Monday.

The elite US Marine Corps HMX-1 squadron, which provides air support to US Presidents, thundered over the cities, along with RAF Military helicopters and police air support.

Perhaps the most dramatic sight were the Osprey MV-22 aircraft, which can land and take off like a helicopter but then tilt their rotors to become conventional planes.

The Ospreys, which visited both the Celtic Manor summit venue and Cardiff city centre, were accompanied by Sikorsky VH-60N helicopters, a VIP version of the US Blackhawk.

The VH-60N, known as a "Nighthawk", will change its callsign to "Marine One" but only when the President is on board.

Image copyright Lewis Fackrell
Image caption The VH-60N 'Nighthawk' will transport President Obama around Wales

The Ospreys, operated by the same HMX-1 squadron, provide logistical support and carry members of the US Secret Service.

Members of the US Marine Corps squadron and several aircraft have been flown to a temporary base at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire from Quantico, Virginia.

It's understood Monday's operation was a familiarisation flight for the US crews.

RAF Merlin helicopters, which can carry 25 fully armed troops, were also training in the area at the same time.

Police had earlier advised the public not to be alarmed by the helicopter activity.

People took to social media as the aircraft circled.

Rhian Lewis tweeted: "Not every day your desk starts to shake because of the giant helicopters buzzing around."

James Knight posted: "The amount of helicopters I have heard today makes it sound like were at war, not having a NATO summit."

The four Ospreys and two VH-60N "Nighthawks" - all painted in a distinctive olive green and white - later returned to their base at RAF Fairford.

They will take to the skies again when Air Force One carrying President Obama to the UK arrives on Wednesday.

Image copyright Lewis Fackrell
Image caption The Osprey MV-22 aircraft was seen high above the skies of Wales

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