UK’s largest parachute drop in decade ends 2015 training for Colchester troops

Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade jump from a RAF C130 aircraft onto Salisbury Plain in
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Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade jump from a RAF C130 aircraft onto Salisbury Plain in the largest military parachute drop in the UK in more than decade. - Credit: Cpl Daniel Wiepen RLC (Phot)

Paratroopers based in Colchester marked the end of their 2015 training with the largest parachute drop in the UK in more than a decade.

Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade prepare to jump from a RAF C130 aircraft onto Salisbury Plain in

Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade prepare to jump from a RAF C130 aircraft onto Salisbury Plain in the largest military parachute drop in the UK in more than decade. - Credit: Cpl Andrew Morris (RAF)

A total of 200 regular and reserve soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade jumped from four RAF Hercules transport aircraft onto Salisbury Plain as part of Exercise Musketeer Reprendre.

As well as being part of the regular practice for the paratroopers, who dropped from 800 feet in overhead assault mode – carrying light equipment to begin combat as soon as they hit the ground – the mission also provided training for the Royal Air Force crews in parachute operations.

It was also the first major jump since the brigade adopted Pegasus, the image of an armed man being delivered into battle from the air, as its new emblem.

Brigadier Colin Weir, Commander of 16 Air Asslt Bde, said: “We enjoy a close relationship with the RAF and this jump is a powerful demonstration of our joint capabilities, which we continue to develop.

Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade prepare to jump from a RAF C130 aircraft onto Salisbury Plain in

Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade prepare to jump from a RAF C130 aircraft onto Salisbury Plain in the largest military parachute drop in the UK in more than decade. - Credit: Cpl Andrew Morris (RAF)


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“The RAF’s Hercules transport aircraft and Puma, Merlin and Chinook support helicopters are vital to the air manoeuvre capability that defines 16 Air Assault Brigade’s unique role.

“It has also been an excellent way to mark the end of 2015, a fruitful year for the brigade in which we have improved our interoperability with US and French paratroopers through major airborne exercises and redefined our identity and ethos through the re-adoption of Pegasus.”

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For Private Andrew Lester, 19, it was his ninth jump in 18 months serving with 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.

“He said: “It was great conditions for jumping, with clear skies and barely any wind, and I had a soft landing.

“When you’re on the plane you don’t have much time to think, it’s just a case of jumping out of the door and concentrating on following the routines we’re taught in training.”

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