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Paratroopers receive long distance supplies by air

British paratroopers taking part in the Exercise Jebel Sahara in Morocco received supplies by air dispatch from the UK.

A Royal Air Force Atlas transport aircraft flew to Morocco to parachute essential supplies to British soldiers on the ground, in what is the longest-range airdrop performed by the RAF’s Atlas Force.

This is the first long-range insertion of CDS by Atlas, showing the aircraft’s reach and speed, and its capability to deliver large and heavy cargo to a precise coordinate without landing. FLIGHT LIEUTENANT KAY, ROYAL AIR FORCE

The Atlas C1 (A400M) departed from RAF Brize Norton and flew 1,400 miles to drop multiple packages at a small drop zone near Marrakech just hours later. Once on the ground the packages - known as Container Delivery System (CDS) - were collected by paratroopers from the A Company Group, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment taking part in Exercise Jebel Sahara.

The large and agile Atlas was operated by pilots and loadmasters from 30 and 70 Squadrons. The co-pilot, Flight Lieutenant Kay, said “this is the first long-range insertion of CDS by Atlas, showing the aircraft’s reach and speed, and its capability to deliver large and heavy cargo to a precise coordinate without landing.”

He added “we can deliver wherever help is needed, such as humanitarian aid, flood relief, or in this case, military resupply. Sometimes to deliver by road or sea would take too long or is just not possible, and Atlas has the ability to deliver over long distances, quickly and with precision.”

47 Air Despatch has airdropped supplies around the world, from Alaska to Antarctica, and the loads are always different – it could be pallets of jerry cans or a single large boat. CPL WILLIAMS,
47 AIR DESPATCH SQUADRON ROYAL LOGISTIC CORPS

The cargo was prepared and deployed by soldiers from 47 Air Despatch Squadron Royal Logistic Corps. They regularly work with RAF transport aircraft to deliver supplies to troops requiring equipment or civilians in desperate need.

Corporal Williams was in charge of the preparation and deployment of the CDS. He said: “47 Air Despatch has airdropped supplies around the world, from Alaska to Antarctica, and the loads are always different – it could be pallets of jerry cans or a single large boat. It’s a challenging job and we work hard to find the best solution for each load to reach the troops on the ground efficiently.”

Exercise Jebel Sahara has seen 2 PARA working in Morocco alongside troops from 2e Brigade d'Infanterie Parachutiste. The despatched supplies, included a quad bike, trailer and rations that were vital for the paratroopers to continue operating with their Moroccan counterparts.

Sergeant Seng Lee, of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment RLC, ran the drop zone in Morocco.

He said: “This is the longest-range air despatch serial I’ve been involved with and, as DZ (Drop Zone) NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) I’m responsible for finding, marking and managing the DZ.

This is the longest-range air despatch serial I’ve been involved with and, as DZ NCO I’m responsible for finding, marking and managing the DZ. SERGEANT SENG LEE,
13 AIR ASSAULT SUPPORT REGIMENT RLC

“My priority is safety, to protect troops on the ground from falling loads, but also for the stores. If I chose unsuitable ground and the stores are damaged and unusable, then it’s a wasted effort - even more so when they’ve been flown all the way from the UK.”

The three-week exercise near Marrakech has provided an opportunity for the paratroopers to learn from the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces’ experience of operating in the hot, dry and demanding conditions of the desert. In return, 2 PARA have shared their hard-earned skills in patrolling, both on foot and in vehicles, as well as marksmanship, demolitions and casualty care.