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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Army's rapid reaction force takes to the air

10 Apr 12

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

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.

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