Ex Titan Archer

Ex TITAN ARCHER was a back-to-basics exercise conducted by 664 Sqn on Salisbury Plain, predominantly aimed at Ground Support Flight (GSF) training.

The exercise was conducted over 4 days where the ground crew were thoroughly put through their paces. Rapid setup and closedown of Forward Arming and Refuelling Points (FARPs), FARP compromise drills, convoy drills by both day and night plus a simulated road traffic accident to test the team medics.

The first day was spent deploying from Wattisham to the FOB at Westdown camp. Landing points were established for the aircraft and the signallers set up their Command Post alongside Squadron Headquarters.  From there the ground crew set out to establish the first FARP.

Arriving at the same time as the aircraft, we were under pressure to set up the FARP quickly whilst they circled overhead. Once the FARP was established, the aircraft landed and we were straight into refuelling and uploading.  A little rusty at first, the troops soon got back into the swing of things. From there we were given the order to move to a new location, so the FARP was swiftly collapsed and we set off in convoy under the GSF commander.

By now we were moving at night on just side lights which allowed us to move tactically and prevent the enemy ambushing the convoy. Along the route we encountered a road traffic incident where the team medics were assessed by Cpl Cole, who was impressed by their swift response and drills. After a hot debrief, we were told the enemy had endangered the route by laying mines, so we turned back to our original FARP location.

On the second day orders were given to deploy a new FARP, however the enemy had used the cover of darkness to block multiple routes. A Chinook was deployed to insert the GSF by air. We loaded the Chinook and after a short flight we were dropped off next to a bridge. The GSF swiftly unloaded the aircraft, cleared the area and established a 2 point FARP, 1 point either side of the bridge.  We were then straight into upload drills by both day and night.

On the final refuel the aircrew were informed over the net that the FARP outer cordon had been compromised. Subsequently the refuel was cut short and the aircraft lifted immediately to engage the enemy while we moved location. The majority of the GSF were sent to the new location while a small party led by the GSF Commander met the SSM and SQMS at a tactical location for a resupply. It was a successful reaction to a compromise and the enemy did not manage to engage the GSF with small arms or indirect fire.

On the third day we collapsed the FARP and Airtrooper Smith led the convoy successfully back to the FOB via a number of checkpoints to recondition and receive further orders.

Overall Ex TITAN ARCHER was a challenging exercise for all involved and there were many lessons identified by the aircrew, ground crew and signals that can be carried forward and improved upon. For some it was their first time on a live FARP which was a valuable experience for them whilst for others it was a chance to practice their drills and blow out the cobwebs. This exercise was the first opportunity for 664 Sqn’s GSF to practice their FARP compromise SOP’s.

By Cpl Corby

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