Soldiers have taken to the skies of Shropshire to be ready to respond to crises around the world.
1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) worked with an RAF A400M transport aircraft at RAF Shawbury to develop their airlanding skills. Troops loaded and secured Land Rovers and Jackal patrol vehicles on the aircraft, and then took flight to practise getting off the aircraft and into the fight as fast as possible.
The skills learnt on Exercise Pegasus Clover are vital for the unit in its role in 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s global response force. The brigade is trained and equipped to be ready to deploy by air at short notice to respond to international crises, from evacuations to warfighting.
1 R IRISH, based at Clive Barracks in Tern Hill, serves in 16 Air Assault Brigade as light reconnaissance strike infantry, a new concept that the unit is developing. The intent is to provide a highly mobile force to boost the brigade’s firepower and reconnaissance capabilities, with the flexibility to deploy onto operations by airlanding or driving.
Major Matt Hazlett, Officer Commanding C (Ranger) Company, said that the light reconnaissance strike role was “defined by mobility”.
“We must have the mobility to get our troops and vehicles anywhere in the world by air, to then use our mobility on the ground to achieve the mission." Major Matt Hazlett
1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment
“We must have the mobility to get our troops and vehicles anywhere in the world by air, to then use our mobility on the ground to achieve the mission,” he said.
“On an operation, we would be the first troops mounted in vehicles to arrive on an airfield that has been captured by a parachute or helicopter assault. Our role is to then push out to secure and expand that foothold.
“We’ve been developing the concept and skills that we need for a few years, mostly through practising our ground role, and this training is about the next stage and building up our air mobility skills.”
Lance Corporal Jordan Allen is a Jackal commander in 1 R IRISH’s Machine Gun Platoon.
“It’s been a good challenge to take on this new role,” he said.
“We’ve changed vehicles from Husky to Jackal, adapted what we know and learnt new skills. This is the first time we’ve taken our vehicles on and off aircraft tactically, and there were some nerves backing up the ramp onto the aircraft because it’s a tight fit!”
1 R IRISH re-joined 16 Air Assault Brigade in 2021 as part of the Future Soldier vision, designed to make the Army a more agile, lethal and expeditionary force. The regiment has a proud history in airborne forces, serving as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade from 1999 to 2015 and tracing its lineage to 1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles, who landed in gliders on D-Day.