Colchester paratroopers show off their firepower on Salisbury Plain

Members of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fire their weapons mounted on a WMIK (Weapons Moun

Members of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fire their weapons mounted on a WMIK (Weapons Mounted Installation Kit) vehicle, which includes a Javelin anti tank weapon. - Credit: Cpl Danny Houghton RLC

Paratroopers from Colchester have staged a firepower demonstration on Salisbury Plain as the culmination of a course in support weapon skills. 

A fast moving scenario saw soldiers from the Colchester based 2nd and 3rd Battalion defend a drop zone they had just parachuted into against an advancing force of armoured vehicles. 

Members of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, run to replenish ammunition during a live firing e

Members of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, run to replenish ammunition during a live firing exercise. - Credit: Cpl Danny Houghton RLC

For this purpose, they used Javelin and NLAW missiles as well as an 81mm mortar and machine guns.

The five week long training course saw soldiers train to join their units specialist machine gun, mortar and anti-tank platoons. 

By day and night they learnt the practical skills of firing and maintaining their weapons in the field. 

A member of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fires an NLAW Anti Tank weapon at a live range in

A member of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fires an NLAW Anti Tank weapon at a live range in Salisbury Plain Training area. - Credit: Cpl Danny Houghton RLC

Major Max Wright, who ran the training, said: “Within a battalion, the heavier weapons grouped in Support Company provide the firepower that enables the rifle companies to manoeuvre and win the battle.

“To be a good Support Company soldier you need physical and mental robustness and an ability to work independently. You need to be able to make decisions and act on your own initiative in a way which will best benefit the battalion.

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“This course is about taking junior paratroopers from the rifle companies and making them better soldiers, by building on their existing skills and making them specialists on these weapons."

Members of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fire an 81mm Mortar on a live range in Salisbury P

Members of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fire an 81mm Mortar on a live range in Salisbury Plain Training Area. - Credit: Cpl Danny Houghton RLC

The soldiers' from the 2nd and 3rd battalions role is to alternate as the lead infantry battlegroup in the Air Assault Task Force, who are held ready to deploy by air to anywhere in the world at short notice. 

Members of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fires a GMG (Grenade Machine Gun) from the top of

Members of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fires a GMG (Grenade Machine Gun) from the top of a WMIK (Weapon Mounted Installation Kit) vehicle. - Credit: Cpl Danny Houghton RLC

Major Wright, who commands the 2rd Parachute Battalions Support Company said: 

“Every weapon system that we use can be broken down and parachuted in, either on the man or in a door bundle, to be set up on the drop zone within minutes of landing. We can carry the weapons on foot and our vehicles would follow later, either by helicopter or airlanding, to give us additional mobility.

“At the end of the cadre, these paratroopers will be ready to parachute in and provide the full range of firepower wherever and however it’s required to achieve the mission.”

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