Experiences

BRITISH AND AMERICAN APACHE UNITS SHARE EXPERIENCES

An exchange visit is helping develop links and understanding between British and American units operating the Apache attack helicopter.

Air and ground crew from the Utah National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 211th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (1-211ARB) are visiting Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk to learn about how the Army Air Corps’ Attack Helicopter Force (AH Force) operates the Apache.

The two-week visit follows a trip by 11 British personnel from AH Force and 6 Regiment Army Air Corps, a reserve unit that provides helicopter ground crew, to 1-211 ARB at their base in Salt Lake City. It is the first time Apache units have been involved in a long-running exchange programme between British and American units.

Captain Paul Whatnell, of Wattisham-based 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, said: “There is real value for us in reaching out to an American unit that is operating the same aircraft in the same role as we do, but in a slightly different way. We have been able to compare our hardware, software and maintenance procedures and share tactics, techniques and procedures.

“We have a lot to learn from each other and look forward to maintaining  the links that we havedeveloped with 1-211 ARB.”

At Wattisham, the Americans toured the flight line and maintenance An exchange visit is helping develop links and understanding between British and American units operating the Apache attack helicopter. Facilities and discussed their roles and working practices with British air and ground crew. They will also observe trainee pilots learning how to fly the Apache at Middle Wallop in Hampshire and join 6 Regt AAC on exercise at Otterburn in Northumberland.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jared Jones, a 1-211 ARB pilot, said: “The purpose of this exchange is to swap ideas about how we operate the Apache to help us both improve our capabilities. It was a pleasure to host the British soldiers in Utah and it’s a valuable experience to balance that by seeing how they use their own equipment on their home turf.”

Staff Sergeant Colby Irons is responsible for ensuring 1-211 ARB’s helicopters are maintained to the correct safety standards.

He said: “I’ve been very impressed with the maintenance facilities at Wattisham and it’s been interesting to talk to my counterparts in the Army Air Corps and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. There are a lot of similarities in how we operate, but we take slightly different routes to reach the same destination.

“We may wear different uniforms but the British and American soldiers working on the Apache are the same calibre of people, doing the same jobs with the same professionalism and pride.”

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