Part of Aviation Task Force 1 (ATF1) deployed to Pippingford Park in Kent to refresh their Forward Air Refuelling Point drills ahead of Exercise Spring Storm in Estonia. ATF1 is made up of 661 and 664 Squadron, 1 Regiment Army Air Corps with each having pilots, ground support, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and signallers.
The Aviation Task Force has a reconnaissance and an attack element and is part of the Army’s Global Response Force. The Force was created as part of Future Soldier, the Army’s transformation plan. It will be ready to respond rapidly to any threat, anywhere in the world, including to deliver humanitarian support.
We’re deploying to Estonia now for an exercise in support of Operation CABRIT. To have that deterrent piece, having the Apache that close to the border, is important. Ground Support Flight Commander Benjamin Epstein
Under Future Soldier, more focus will be on fighting in ‘the deep’ – identifying and striking enemy targets from further away. This will in turn put more emphasis on units like ATF1, as being able to destroy targets from a distance becomes ever-more important.
The Task Force will support the Apache Helicopter Gunships, ensuring it’s refuelled and rearmed ready to take on the enemy. The Wildcat helicopter is also part of the Task Force, and will be used together with the Apache to provide reconnaissance and attack elements.
A Forward Arming Refuelling Point, or FARP, can be set-up close to an enemy position or border, to ensure the greatest range and capability of the Apache. During training, troops practiced setting up defensive positions around the aircraft to protect it from possible enemy damage.
Ground Support Flight Commander Benjamin Epstein, said:
“We’re deploying to Estonia now for an exercise in support of Operation CABRIT. To have that deterrent piece, having the Apache that close to the border, is important. We are deploying until mid-June, and will be training in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. Hopefully we’ll be able to work with Estonians while we’re there.
Everyone sees the Apache as a battle-winning piece of kit, and I’m proud to work on it. We will be getting the updated model soon, which has updated capabilities that will enhance our part in the Global Response Force.”
The Global Response Force will be centred around an Air Manoeuvre Brigade Combat Team (BCT) and a newly established Combat Aviation BCT. They will be equipped with upgraded Apache and Chinook helicopters and integrated with strategic air transport from the RAF.