Challenger 2 MBT and Wildcat prove desert capability on Ex Khanjar Oman

The British Army is demonstrating its expeditionary capabilities on Exercise KHANJAR OMAN 19 (KO19) in the Middle East, with members of 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade working alongside the Royal Army of Oman.


The Royal Tank Regiment with supporting units has deployed an armoured battlegroup, consisting of Challenger 2 main battle tanks and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles to the Ras Madrakah training area. This not only demonstrates the adaptability of its equipment and personnel but shows its readiness to operate in different climates and complex environments.

"Vehicle husbandry has been really important on this exercise, as the conditions are harsh.” Trooper Foley, 21

The crews operating the Challenger 2 have been using experimental tactics during a series of challenging missions, all whilst working across long distances in extreme temperatures.  Throughout the exercise Command Troop have been establishing and maintaining radio communications by operating radio rebroadcast equipment from the middle of the desert. The expansive and complex training area, which is larger than Salisbury Plain and BATUS in Canada, has presented plenty of challenges to the troop.

Trooper Foley, 21, from Staffordshire, has previously deployed on Ex Saif Sareea. He said: “The exercise has developed my skills using communications equipment. I’ve really enjoyed manning the radio rebroadcast station. It’s out in the desert and you’re on your own so you have to put your skills to the test. Vehicle husbandry has been really important on this exercise, as the conditions are harsh.”

Lance Corporal Smith, 23, from Wiltshire, is deployed as a member of the Opposing Force (OpFor) on Warrior infantry fighting vehicles. He forms part of a simulated enemy force which uses tactics to try and outsmart the battlegroup. “Ive really enjoyed working with the infantry. They do things in a very different way and it provides a new perspective. There has been a strong competitive element with a friendly rivalry between us and the exercising troops.”

Soldiers from 659 Squadron, 1 Army Air Corps (1AAC), are providing Wildcat helicopters for the exercise; in reconnaissance and medical evacuation roles. Simultaneously they are delivering a Desert Environmental Training Package, to prove the Squadron’s capability in all environments.

Ex KO19 comes hot on the heels of the Squadron’s recent deployment to the Arctic Circle where soldiers have been conducting winter training in extreme conditions at the other end of the thermometer. The ability to perform a rapid turnaround of cold-hot conditions is a testament to the squadron’s adaptability at short notice.

The Squadron has been providing the air support to 22 Field Hospital, who manage the hospital that has been constructed for the exercise, and which provides critical care to patients on the exercise. 

The UK has a long- established defence relationship with Oman, with strong bonds and shared values and Ex KO19 follows hot on the heels of Ex SAIF SAREEA 3, late last year - the largest joint exercise of its kind for 15 years.