British Chinook pilots and crewmen have spent the past seven weeks flying with US Marines at Marine Air Corps Station Yuma in southern Arizona.
The Ministry of Defence say in a release that they have trained alongside over 200 US Marine students in some of the most realistic training available.
Conditions faced by students in Arizona are understood to mirror those experienced in the Middle East and Africa where RAF Chinooks operate today.
The Detachment Commander responsible for the four RAF students and four instructor, Squadron Leader Chris Middleton, said:
“For the students this is a testing course. It’s training we haven’t received on the helicopter course for a generation. The complexity and scale is an issue for the students but over three to four weeks of ground school and then a crawl, walk, run process they get to be experts by the end. The students on return to the UK will take the good lessons they’ve learnt here back to their squadrons and build them into squadron training.
In recent wars we’ve found ourselves with the US Marine Corps fighting side by side. If we have the lessons that we’ve gained working together in our pockets already then we’re going to be a more effective fighting force.”
Station Commander RAF Odiham and Commander of the RAF Chinook Force, Group Captain Lee Turner, said:
“This is really world class training. We’ve come here in effect to improve the capability of the Chinook Force and to train our people. It’s challenging for our crews and for our personnel here, not only the climatic conditions but also the complex nature of the training and the intensity of this which is a very focussed seven-week course.
It’s a proud moment to be here as the first overseas fully participating members of the course and hopefully we’ve built strong relationships with the US Marine Corps and built on relationships we’ve had in the past.”