7 Aviation Support Battalion REME

Ex LIGHTNING FORCE
Capt Gwynn-Cousins

Ex LIGHNING FORCE 18B (Ex LF18B) is an aviation exercise aimed at qualifying Aircrew for Conversion to Role and gaining the initial qualifications for Attack Helicopter 30mm Live Firing. The exercise was conducted during October 2018 in Otterburn and Spadeadam training areas. Daily exercise sees the Apache held in Otterburn until they are required for a serial. They are then fuelled and armed at a FARP before heading to Spadeadam to conduct evasion drills or various other serials. From a REME perspective, this was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how 71 Company can effectively support a high-profile exercise. Whilst operating from the Central Maintenance Facility in Otterburn we needed to keep a minimum of 4 out of a possible 6 Apache serviceable for the day’s serials. Maintaining the serviceability of all 6-aircraft proved difficult and is an achievement rarely seen but is something that we strive towards (and is rewarded with doughnuts). We ran a split shift with a day and night crew controlled by a Crew Chief. The day crew are more flexible, conducting Daily Flight Servicing and reacting to any issues that may occur. The night crew have a more focused role, conducting routine maintenance to a set schedule. The Ex presented unexpected opportunities as we occasionally found ourselves at the centre of attention when sharing a camp with other cap badges. At one point we delivered a brief to almost 300 curious Ghurkha soldiers about our role in the aviation environment. Most people rarely get to see Apache and it’s easy to take for granted what an awe-inspiring machine it is when you see it every day…

Read more in The Eagle – Winter 2019 Issue

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