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REME Apprentices On IRON CHALLENGE 2022

Recovering an overturned main battle tank with a CrARRV (Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle) on Bordon Training Area [© Bob Morrison]

REME (Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineer) apprentices have been participating on Exercise IRON CHALLENGE 2022 in Hampshire, reports Bob Morrison.


The women and men who keep the British Army shooting, flying, moving and fighting are currently repairing, mending and arming in a TTX (Trade Training Exercise) taking place at Longmoor and Bordon training areas in Hampshire.

The Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers’ Exercise IRON CHALLENGE has been designed to advance 200 students ~ recently qualified soldiers who as Class 3 Craftsmen have the basic knowledge and qualification in their chosen trade ~ to progress to become Class 2 and 1. All are apprentices with some going on to gain recognised qualifications, from NVQ through to degrees, in engineering disciplines.

REME metalsmiths repairing a bracket on a Challenger 2 tank [© Bob Morrison]

Progress to REME’s Class 1 Craftsmen has recently proven to be more protracted than expected, mostly on account of COVID-19 restricting training opportunities and regular exercises, so Ex IRON CHALLENGE has been adapted to provide a three-week concentration of pure trade training in what is termed ‘Safe To Fail’ scenarios. That means they can literally learn from any mistakes they make rather than there being any consequences or ramifications whilst working with an active unit.

The three week long exercise has some 135 instructional staff delivering an astonishing 30,000 hours of tuition and training. It also allows those students who may be having second thoughts about their choice of trade to get a feel for something new and perhaps make that switch.

Classroom lessons at Longmoor Camp [© Bob Morrison]

Ex IRON CHALLENGE has trades such as: metalsmiths fabricating parts to repair all manner of vehicles; armourers maintaining weapons systems from pistols to the 120mm gun on a Challenger 2 main battle tank; vehicle mechanics repairing light vehicles as well as heavy tracked armour; and, of course the ‘Recce Mechs’ (Recovery Mechanics) getting down and dirty in the mud on the training area to extricate tanks that have become bogged in, or in some cases overturned.

We joined the exercise today to get a brief feel for how REME is adapting trade training to derive maximum benefit for the students in a concentrated but relaxed yet realistic package and we plan to bring a full feature in due course.

Tandem recovery of a heavy and difficult load with a brace of MAN SVR recovery vehicles [© Bob Morrison]


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