“We are constantly looking for ways to test our operational readiness. We protect the UK and are ready to work with our allies and partners in defending our values and our security” so expressed a general1 British a few days ago.
The NATO exercise called Cerberus, which saw the participation of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Germany, Denmark and France aimed at peacekeeping operations and high intensity operations. Only Great Britain has fielded nearly 3.500 soldiers and about 800 vehicles for what is considered the largest combat exercise in Europe for more than a decade.
During another British exercise, Talon Guardian,Army air corps field-tested the new attack helicopter Apache AH-64E which externally may not differ from the previous one Apache MK1 but is equipped with sensors, weapons and communication tools that greatly improve flight and combat performance. The commander of the 3rd Army Aviation Regiment reported that it is “of the most advanced attack helicopter in the world”2 equipped with sensors to counter air defense systems and prevent observation by drones.
The exercise saw the new aircraft operate in different weather conditions day and night amidst the wind and fog of the training area Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland and the Hampshire Lowlands.
The aircraft was designed to find and destroy air defense units, tanks and armored vehicles but beyond that, it is capable of many other battlefield tasks including intelligence, acquisition and reconnaissance of surveillance targets. It is equipped with radar Longbow located above the main rotor blades. It can detect and classify up to 256 potential targets in seconds, display 128 of them, and prioritize 16 top threats.
With optical and thermal sights that are used to identify potential targets and pilot the aircraft in low visibility conditions, it can carry a 230mm M30 cannon with 1200 rounds, 70mm rockets, up to 16 AGM-114R anti-tank guided missiles Hellfire 2, up to two AIM-9s Sidewinder, four AIM-92s Stinger or four Mistral air to air.
It can also be equipped with two AGM-122 anti-radar missiles. Additional fuel tanks can be installed on the wings, increasing its flight range.
The paratroopers of the 2nd battalion, on the other hand, are currently engaged alongside the 2nd parachute infantry brigade of Morocco in the exercise Jebel Sahara to develop “readiness for operations wherever required”. 2 PARA trains to operate with the 16th Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, element of Global Response Force capable of being activated promptly and rapidly in response to crises and war combat
In the three weeks of planned training, the British want to achieve the declared aim of learning from the experiences of the Moroccan army to operate in conditions of extreme heat, relying on the bare minimum and exploiting what can be found in the field.
Another exercise in a desert environment is the Khanjar Oman in the Duqm region (Oman). This is a UK-led combined exercise operating alongside the Royal Omani Army in the Ras Madrakah training area.
The exercise aims to develop joint capabilities with Omani forces, including air and ground integration and operating in a desert environment.
The land component is made up of over 800 soldiers from all departments of the British army and about 100 members of the 1st Aviation Brigade equipped with “Wildcat” reconnaissance helicopters (photo below).
Lead department is the 4th Light Brigade Combat Team, formation established on 1 December 2014, which includes regular and reserve army units capable of performing various functions.
Named "The Black Rats" Brigade members are the new's flagship department Joint Expeditionary Force (Land), capable of providing a non-permanent force that can be used to suit small to medium-sized operations. Other departments of the land component are the 2nd battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland Light Mechanized Infantry Battlegroup, which includes a squadron of the Light Cavalry Regiment "The Light Dragoons” of the United Kingdom, a squadron of the Western Border Security Force of Oman and a number of support units.
The British are preparing to fight in different environmental conditions and in different war scenarios. The intensification of operations and cooperation with countries of the Atlantic Alliance (and others) demonstrate this: have clear goals to pursue.
1 Major General James Martin, commander of 3a division of the United Kingdom. www.adsadvance.co.uk
Photo: UK MoD