British Army completes Apache exercise in the States

Army Apache crews are return­ing to the UK this week hav­ing com­plet­ed a major exer­cise in the Unit­ed States as part of the Apache Con­ver­sion To Role course.

Army Air Corps Apache heli­copter pilots and ground crew dur­ing Exer­cise Crim­son Eagle in the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca [Pic­ture: Sergeant Russ Nolan, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Exer­cise Crim­son Eagle is a chal­leng­ing two-month exer­cise, split between Naval Air Facil­i­ty El Cen­tro in Cal­i­for­nia and the Gila Bend Air Force Aux­il­iary Field in Arizona. 

The exer­cise includ­ed avi­a­tion envi­ron­men­tal train­ing and judge­men­tal train­ing, and then a live fir­ing phase where the stu­dents fired all of the air­craft weapons sys­tems with­in real­is­tic tac­ti­cal scenarios. 

All stu­dents had to prove their pro­fi­cien­cy in han­dling the air­craft in moun­tain­ous and desert con­di­tions, includ­ing dust land­ings and lim­it­ed pow­er train­ing dur­ing both the day and night as well as safe­ly employ­ing the air­craft weapons. 

The live fir­ing phase of the exer­cise, on the Bar­ry M Gold­wa­ter Air Force Range com­plex in Ari­zona, was the final assess­ment in weapons han­dling, and the cul­mi­na­tion of months of inten­sive train­ing in the sim­u­la­tor and air­craft to ensure pilots achieve their live fir­ing qualifications. 

Upon com­ple­tion of Exer­cise Crim­son Eagle the stu­dents will com­plete a short peri­od of fur­ther train­ing before the end of the Apache Con­ver­sion to Role Course, and qual­i­fy­ing for Lim­it­ed Com­bat Ready status. 

Upon com­ple­tion of the Apache Con­ver­sion to Role Course stu­dents will then be assigned to one of the Apache squadrons with­in 16 Air Assault Brigade, where they will gain wider expe­ri­ence, fly­ing Apach­es and tak­ing part in exer­cis­es in the Unit­ed Kingdom. 

Lieu­tenant Colonel Peter Bullen, Chief of Staff of the Attack Heli­copter Force at Wat­tisham Sta­tion, said: 

“Exer­cise Crim­son Eagle is a chal­leng­ing exer­cise dur­ing which stu­dents have had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tise skills in a demand­ing envi­ron­ment with con­di­tions sim­i­lar to those in Afghanistan. 

“This train­ing has ranged from envi­ron­men­tal train­ing dur­ing the day and night, includ­ing dust land­ings, judge­men­tal train­ing and moun­tain fly­ing, fol­lowed by a live fir­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion on the large ranges avail­able here in Arizona. 

“In the avi­a­tion busi­ness we encour­age a con­tin­u­al learn­ing process, how­ev­er the stu­dents will cer­tain­ly leave the States feel­ing more con­fi­dent in their own abil­i­ties to be able to deliv­er Apache sup­port in a chal­leng­ing envi­ron­ment. Stu­dents will return to the UK and com­plete a peri­od of fur­ther train­ing before fin­ish­ing their Con­ver­sion To Role course.” 

These tac­ti­cal exer­cis­es are designed for the Apache pilots to achieve Lim­it­ed Com­bat Ready sta­tus and gain expe­ri­ence work­ing in ter­rain and con­di­tions sim­i­lar to that which the Apache crews may expe­ri­ence on deploy­ment overseas. 

One of the stu­dents on the Apache Con­ver­sion to Role Course, Major Alas­dair Mack said: 

“The train­ing has been huge­ly enjoy­able and very demand­ing. The course is made up of stu­dents of var­i­ous degrees of expe­ri­ence, some ab ini­tio straight off their Army pilots course to more expe­ri­enced aviators. 

“Regard­less of back­ground, the Apache is a great lev­eller and a com­pli­cat­ed beast. We have all been under var­i­ous degrees of pres­sure on the course but we are now at the stage where we are com­fort­able with the inner work­ings of the air­craft and using its sys­tems to best effect.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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