British Army Trains Rapid Land Vehicle Deployment Via Air Transport

The British Army has held air landing training to improve rapid ground vehicle deployments using military transport aircraft.

The activity is part of army efforts to enhance readiness when called upon for international warfare and humanitarian operations on short notice.

Conducted in Shawbury, troops practiced with a Royal Air Force A400M Atlas cargo plane to load, secure, and move Jackal patrol vehicles and tactical Land Rovers as fast as possible.

Participants included personnel from the 1st Battalion – The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) light reconnaissance strike infantry based in Clive Barracks, Tern Hill.

The unit is being transformed to amplify “highly mobile” support for the army’s global response force, the 16th Air Assault Brigade.

Jackal 2 Reconnaissance vehicles and their crew from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, ready to drive off the Royal Air Force (RAF) ATLAS C.1 (A400M) aircraft after a Rapid Air Landing (RAL) at RAF Shawbury on Exercise Pegasus Clover on the 12th of December 2023.1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) worked with an RAF ATLAS C.1 aircraft at RAF Shawbury to develop their airlanding skills. Troops loaded and secured Land rovers on the aircraft, and then took flight to practise getting off the aircraft and into the fight as fast as possible. The skills learnt on Exercise Pegasus Clover are vital for the unit in its role in 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s global response force. The brigade is trained and equipped to be ready to deploy by air at short notice to respond to international crises, from evacuations to warfighting. 1 R IRISH, based at Clive Barracks in Tern Hill, serves in 16 Air Asslt Bde as light recce strike infantry, a new concept that the unit is currently developing. The intent is to provide a highly mobile force that can seek out battle winning information, while having the firepower to hit the enemy hard. It has the flexibility to deploy onto operations by airlanding or driving, as well as conducting helicopter operations.
Jackal 2 Reconnaissance vehicles ready to drive off the Royal Air Force (RAF) ATLAS C.1 (A400M) aircraft. Photo: Cpl Aaron J Stone/UK Ministry of Defence

“We must have the mobility to get our troops and vehicles anywhere in the world by air, to then use our mobility on the ground to achieve the mission,” Commanding Officer Maj. Matt Hazlett explained.

“On an operation, we would be the first troops mounted in vehicles to arrive on an airfield that has been captured by a parachute or helicopter assault. Our role is to then push out to secure and expand that foothold.

“We’ve been developing the concept and skills that we need for a few years, mostly through practising our ground role, and this training is about the next stage and building up our air mobility skills.”

Modernizing Mobility

According to the British Army, the 1 R IRISH was re-integrated into the 16th Air Assault Brigade in 2021 to address requirements outlined by the UK Ministry of Defence’s Future Soldier framework.

The program aims to reshape the army into “a more agile, lethal and expeditionary force” against advanced and future threats.

1 R IRISH served under the assault brigade between 1999 to 2015. The regiment’s initial iteration, the Royal Ulster Rifles, is notable for using gliders during the Second World War to transport soldiers and supplies behind enemy lines.

“It’s been a good challenge to take on this new role. We’ve changed vehicles from Husky to Jackal, adapted what we know and learnt new skills,” 1 R IRISH Jackal Commander LCpl. Jordan Allen said.

“This is the first time we’ve taken our vehicles on and off aircraft tactically, and there were some nerves backing up the ramp onto the aircraft because it’s a tight fit!”

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