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Suffolk-based Apache attack helicopters on target for Oman exercise

PUBLISHED: 17:14 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:29 30 August 2018

Apache Helicopter firing it's cannon at RAF Holbeach Picture: GARRY FOX

Apache Helicopter firing it's cannon at RAF Holbeach Picture: GARRY FOX

© 2018 Crown Copyright MOD

A fleet of army helicopters based in Suffolk have opened fire with rockets and cannon as they prepare for a major exercise in the deserts of Oman.

664 Squadron Ground Crew working on Apache Helicopter at Sculthorpe Airfield Picture: GARRY FOX664 Squadron Ground Crew working on Apache Helicopter at Sculthorpe Airfield Picture: GARRY FOX

The Apache attack helicopters of 664 Squadron, 4 Regiment Army Air Corps will be taking part in a special exercise among more than 4,000 British personnel training alongside the Omani military in October.

664 Squadron, which is based at Wattisham Flying Station where Prince Harry served between 2011 and 2014, was put through its paces this week as air crew carries out day and night shoots at Holbeach Air Weapons Range in Lincolnshire.

The attack helicopters were replenished at Sculthorpe airfield in Norfolk – in what a spokesman described as “the military equivant of a Formula 1 pit stop”.

Major David Mills, Officer Commanding 664 Sqn AAC, said: “Exercise Saif Sareera is a fantastic opportunity which will showcase all of the Squadron’s equipment, capabilities and people.

664 Squadron Ground Crew working on Apache Helicopter at Sculthorpe Airfield Picture: GARRY FOX664 Squadron Ground Crew working on Apache Helicopter at Sculthorpe Airfield Picture: GARRY FOX

“We’re overcoming the logistic challenges of shipping the Apache, including all of the associated equipment and munitions by sea to Oman, and are ready for the complexities of maintaining the Apache in the desert and operating in support of British armoured infantry and our Omani partners.

“Before we deploy it’s been great to get the Squadron out on our home turf for a final test of our skills – both on the ground and in the air, and including the first CRV7 rockets fired at Holbeach.”

Oman will be the first overseas exercise for many of 664 Squadron’s junior soldiers, such as aviation groundcrew specialist Airtrooper Ben Bowes-Bellamy.

The 19-year-old said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge. My role is about refuelling and rearming the Apache, and doing that in the desert in Oman will be a different and demanding environment to test my skills.”

Apache Helicopter firing rocket at RAF Holbeach Picture: GARRY FOXApache Helicopter firing rocket at RAF Holbeach Picture: GARRY FOX

Airtrooper Harry Woodward, 20, added: “I’m really keen to get out and do my job overseas.

“It’s great to work on the Apache, which is a very robust aircraft but will need extra care and attention in a hot and dusty environment.

“It’s also about looking after yourself in different conditions. A lot of the more senior groundcrew served in Afghanistan, so there’s a lot I want to learn from them about working in the desert.”

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