RAF Chinook crews train for Afghanistan in California
RAF Chinook helicopter crews recently travelled to the United States to train for Afghanistan in the heat and high-altitude terrain of southern California.
A large proportion of the RAF Odiham-based force has rotated through US Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC) in southern California in preparation for ongoing operations in Afghanistan.
This deployment was a first for the RAF’s 18 and 27 Squadrons. It follows on from earlier detachments to the same location by the Army Air Corps Apaches and Lynx aircraft and the RAF’s Merlin Force.
RAF Odiham Station Commander, Group Captain Steve Shell, said:
“It is clear that El Centro replicates Afghanistan better than previous Environmental Training locations and offers greater potential for other combat ready workup training sorties.”
”]In addition to their normal under-slung load prep task, personnel from the RAF Odiham Joint Helicopter Support Squadron (JHSS) acted as ‘white force’ during tactical exercises, playing the roles of passenger handlers, Army Commanders, and even simulated casualties for evacuation tasks, “… although using strawberry syrup for the blood might have been a mistake,” said JHSS Detachment Commander, Flight Lieutenant Paul Mason, with a grin.
“The realism really inspired people and means that they are far better prepared for combat operations than they have ever been.”
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