British paratroopers have earned their German parachute wings, developing the ability of British and German airborne forces to serve together as NATO allies.
Exercise Atlas Despatcher saw an A400M transport aircraft from Lufttransportgeschwader 62 fly from its base at Wunstorf in Germany into RAF Brize Norton for joint training.
Jumpmasters from Fallschirmjägerregiment 31 trained British paratroopers from 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team (16 Air Asslt BCT), the British Army’s global response force, in how to use German T-10 parachutes. Then, the British soldiers parachuted onto Salisbury Plain from the German aircraft under German canopies.
The work is about developing the ability of British and German airborne forces to share resources, providing a more flexible and capable force when working together as NATO allies.
Flight Lieutenant Chris Wilce, an RAF Parachute Jump Instructor attached to 16 Air Asslt BCT, said: “This training is all about being able to do more together with our German allies, by giving us the ability to mix and match our capabilities. For the individual paratrooper, the benefit is in the experience - understanding the different procedures and operating parameters of a different parachute system stretches their skills to make them better parachutists.”
Stabsfeldwebel Volker Metzig, of Fallschirmjägerregiment 31, said: “This training has been a positive experience to strengthen the links between British and German paratroopers. We've qualified our jumpmasters on managing parachuting from the A400M and given the British the experience of jumping with our parachutes and from the A400M.
“As static line parachutes, the T-10 is quite similar to the British Low-Level Parachute, but there are differences between the kit and procedures in the aircraft. Learning and adapting to these differences now means that we can work closer together in future on exercises and operations.”
Captain Maik Biggs, of 16 Medical Regiment, is half-German and has been a driving force in developing links between British and German airborne forces.
“We’ve really built a strong relationship with the Germans over the last decade, through parachute concentrations like this and joint field exercises,” he said. “Germany is a key NATO ally and being able to work together is the bedrock of NATO. You never know what is around the next corner, and it’s critical that we train together and share our skills and drills so that we are ready for operations together."