UK — Army’s rapid reaction force takes to the air

Troops from the British Army’s rapid reac­tion force have tak­en part in an avi­a­tion skills mas­ter class.

Sol­diers from 16 Air Assault Brigade para­chute onto Sal­is­bury plain from an RAF Her­cules trans­port air­craft [Pic­ture: Sergeant Obi Igboe­bi­siok­wu, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
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From para­chut­ing to heli­copter assaults and Rapid Air Land­ing (RAL), Exer­cise EAGLES FLIGHT 12 has seen 16 Air Assault Brigade sol­diers work­ing on Sal­is­bury Plain with RAF C-130 Her­cules trans­port air­craft and heli­copters.

The train­ing was about hon­ing key skills required for the Air­borne Task Force (ABTF), which sees the Brigade main­tain a force ready to deploy any­where in the world at short notice to do any­thing from dis­as­ter relief to war fight­ing.

On Wednes­day 4 April, some 120 troops from Colch­ester-based A Com­pa­ny (A Coy), 3rd Bat­tal­ion The Para­chute Reg­i­ment (3 PARA), para­chut­ed onto the Ever­leigh drop zone before being picked up by heli­copters to “assault” South Cer­ney air­field.

Major Richard Todd, Offi­cer Com­mand­ing A Coy 3 PARA, said:

“This exer­cise has allowed us to work on a num­ber of air inser­tion tech­niques, learn­ing the skills and drills on the ground and then rehears­ing it in the air.

“These tech­niques are applic­a­ble to all oper­a­tions we could be asked to do as the ABTF, from the benign sit­u­a­tion of mov­ing into a coun­try to a hos­tile envi­ron­ment where we could have to seize an objec­tive by para­chute assault.”

The para­chute jump on Wednes­day was an over­head assault, which sees troops car­ry­ing light equip­ment and weapons jump­ing from C130s fly­ing at only 600ft (182m).

Cap­tain Tom Walk­er explained:

“This is the per­fect way to get a com­pa­ny of para­troop­ers on the ground with­in a mat­ter of min­utes. If the sit­u­a­tion demands it, the speed of the descent and the equip­ment we are car­ry­ing mean that we would be ready to start fight­ing as we hit the ground.”

Lance Cor­po­ral Mark Mur­phie said:

“This has been real­ly good train­ing, tak­ing us back to basics on para­chut­ing and work­ing with heli­copters. Doing a jump in a tac­ti­cal style is what being a para­troop­er is all about and it’s been a valu­able and enjoy­able expe­ri­ence.”

Troops from 5th Bat­tal­ion The Roy­al Reg­i­ment of Scot­land also took part in the exer­cise, which was key train­ing for the unit as it pre­pares to take over as lead bat­tle­group for the ABTF.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK