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WESSEX STORM ~ CJEF Air Assault On Salisbury Plain

US Paratroopers from 173rd Airborne Combat Brigade parachute into Exercise WESSEX STORM on Salisbury Plain as part of a 2 PARA led Battlegroup [Crown Copyright: Cpl Rob Kane]
An Air Assault Battlegroup from the Anglo-French CJEF (Combined Joint Expeditionary Force) has been exercising on Salisbury Plain.


British Army News Release, 04 (distributed 05) December 2020: British, French and American paratroopers have given a powerful demonstration of how they can go side-by-side into battle by air.

British troops disembark an RAF A400 on arrival at Keevil Airfield during Exercise WESSEX STORM [Crown Copyright: Cpl Rob Kane]

Some 20 helicopters carried the 1,300-strong 2 PARA Battlegroup into action today (Fri 4 Dec) on Exercise WESSEX STORM. Mounting at Keevil airfield on Salisbury Plain, troops, vehicles and stores were lifted by Royal Air Force Chinook and Puma support helicopters, protected by the sensors and weapons of Army Air Corps Wildcat reconnaissance helicopters and Apache attack helicopters. The multinational force was dropped off to assault Imber village, capturing it to use as a base for further missions on the windswept training area.

47 Air Dispatch Squadron, 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, drop quad bikes from a C-130 onto Salisbury Plain, in support of 2 PARA Battlegroup [Crown Copyright: Cpl Rob Kane]

The training is about confirming the 2 PARA Battlegroup’s skills and readiness to serve as the lead infantry unit within 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s global response force. Some 150 troops from the French 2e Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes and a 40-strong platoon from the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment are taking part. Their involvement is about growing understanding of each other’s capabilities and tactics, meaning our airborne forces are better prepared to operate together on future operations.

Troops from 63 Air Assault Support Squadron, 13 Air Assault Support Regiment unpack pallets of Ammunition that have just landed on the drop zone [Crown Copyright: Cpl Rob Kane]

Today’s mission – the largest British-led air assault since Operation MOSHTARAK in Afghanistan in February 2010 – comes as the six-week long manoeuvres (2 Nov-12 Dec) reach their validation phase. The Battlegroup is being challenged to beat back the invasion of an ally by a hostile neighbour, fighting both conventional military units and militia-type forces. Before launching the air assault, troops had parachuted in to capture Keevil, with additional personnel, stores and vehicles delivered by RAF and French Armee de l’Air A400M transport aircraft.

A French paratrooper looks in as another wave of 2 PARA led Battlegroup troops approach via helicopter [Crown Copyright: Cpl Rob Kane]

The 2 PARA Battlegroup is built around the paratroopers of Colchester-based 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, supported by signallers, engineers, artillery, medics and logistics specialists from 16 Air Assault Brigade. It is training to be ready to deploy at short notice on operations around the world.

British and French troops arrive safely onto Salisbury Plain, after being delivered to battle by RAF Chinooks, during Exercise WESSEX STORM [Crown Copyright: Cpl Rob Kane]
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