EX Talon Python

never underestimate how many working parts there are to an exercise. Let alone an exercise where a whole Logistics brigade, two squadrons of Apache helicopters, a squadron of Wildcat and a Regimental Headquarters element deploy into the field.

Unencountered problems were being negotiated, as well as working through the ever-present friction that is always associated with aviation. From day one it was a steep learning experience for all, from the Clerk conducting mammoth DACs to the CO contemplating how to get this battlegroup to the line of departure in good order. After a busy few days of exercise preparation, Exercise Talon Python began in the familiar territory of Wattisham flying station. The first FRAGO was distributed and it was all hands to the pump in order to achieve a simple yet effective plan to achieve the mission. The first of many new experiences for most of the exercising troops was working with different arms of the Army. This included the wider logistics chain and the appearance of Wildcat to offer target identification and handover in the target area. This first mission allowed all members of the battlegroup to iron out issues, as well as draft and distribute standard operating procedures to accelerate the synergy we would see by the end of the exercise. The execution of the first mission was successful and saw the majority of the battle group organise themselves at FOB Kendrew (RAF Cottesmore) in order to conduct further tasking. With the distribution of the second mission orders, everyone began to settle into its battle rhythm and individuals grew ever-comfortable into the new environment. This would be a common theme throughout the rest of the exercise. Throughout the missions, we as a fighting force demonstrated that the range, scale and complexity of operating as battlegroup are all deliverable in reality. The logistics chain was a thoroughly tested element throughout with crews planning and launching with fewer aircraft due to the lack of spare parts, and limited weapons load as a result of logistical limitations – a real time constraint that cannot be ignored. Overall the logistics delivered however, the strive for seamless movement of equipment and resources goes on.The final mission delivered a multi-Squadron deep strike 600km from the FOB. The Regiment utilised FARP (forward arming refuelling point), FARE (forward area refuelling equipment) and ALARP (air landed aviation refuelling point) refuels to attack a defended target with live enemy, live screen and Electronic Warfare threats, at night with lights out. A fantastic baseline was achieved across all arms of the battlegroup, and a seed firmly planted in everyone’s mind that if the button were to be pressed to deploy in a divisional fighting theatre, we would be able to deliver.The cessation of Ex Talon Python marked the end of the exercising year. From here the winter wind down to Christmas slowly crept in. The REME maintained their working schedule to get the serviceability tip top post Christmas leave, and the rest focussed on equipment care and currencies to achieve a healthy state before all the Christmas social events began.

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