During NATO exercise Swift Response held in Estonia, paratroopers from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battlegroup (3 PARA BG) demonstrated their formidable capabilities.

The exercise involved over 2,300 personnel from four countries.

The event forms part of Steadfast Defender 24, NATO’s most extensive military exercise since the Cold War, engaging approximately 90,000 troops from all 32 NATO allies. According to a press release, the exercise tested the paratroopers’ skills in a 48-hour live fire mission aimed at clearing and holding a three-kilometer-long trench system.

Troops were inserted by Chinook helicopters under the cover of darkness and began their assault at dawn, facing a simulated enemy that used drones for surveillance. The paratroopers used their own drones to advance through the enemy fortifications effectively.

Supporting the ground forces were Typhoon fighter jets, Apache AH-64E attack helicopters, and artillery, which provided crucial cover and engagement capabilities. “The combined arms approach, involving ground troops, air support, and artillery, ensured a robust offensive capable of overcoming enemy strongpoints,” stated a press release.

Private Matt Hames, a General Purpose Machine Gunner (GPMG) with 3 PARA, was quoted in the press release as saying, “In the trenches, it’s very cramped, the front line is only a few soldiers wide, and you’ve just got to be extra switched on. I’m providing firepower to keep the enemy’s heads down and protect my mates. We all know our roles and each other, and it’s the team that sees you through.”

The exercise also involved critical support tasks such as evacuating simulated casualties and managing the resupply of ammunition. In addition to combat roles, 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment (23 Para Engr Regt) was responsible for creating natural fortifications and clearing pathways by removing obstacles like barbed wire and mines.

Air support coordination was handled by 7 Para RHA’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC), who, as described by Warrant Officer Class Two Adam Colvin, performed “air traffic control with high explosives,” making strategic decisions that directly impacted the battlefield dynamics.

Lieutenant Colonel Dave Mans, the commanding officer of 3 PARA BG, praised the realistic and challenging nature of the exercise.

“The more we do at this scale and complexity, the better prepared we are for any environment. Training builds relationships, we learn how we react under pressure, and understand what our capabilities are to make the battlegroup as effective as possible, whatever it is asked to do.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_817977)
3 days ago

Curious, under what tactical conditions/circumstances would the Paras conduct an actual parachute jump, and, is the A-400 fully certified/capable of supporting that mission? Alternatively, would UK request support from a NATO ally still equipped w/ C-130s, for such a mission? 🤔

frank
frank (@guest_818007)
3 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Well actually seeing real time footage of paratroops deployed in Ukraine by Russia a couple of years ago ….. I’d say that this sort of action would be pretty obsolete now….. and moving on, I’d be very surprised if Boot’s on the Ground would be able to repel the constant barrage of drones …….. Seriously, this War has completely changed the way that we have been training for…….. Just check out Youtube and see the devastation Drones are having on Armour, Infantry and Ships…… Just who the hell would want to be in a Trench,Tank, APC or Ship in this… Read more »

Steve
Steve (@guest_818113)
3 days ago
Reply to  frank

I was reading the article and it states drone surveillance and not constant bombardment of artillery and fpv drones. They appear to still be training on scenarios that existed before the war and not since.

Concerned
Concerned (@guest_818167)
2 days ago
Reply to  frank

Russia didn’t do a para drop instead it was an airborne assault in which troops were taken to Hostomel by helicopter rather than jumping off a plane

Donaldson
Donaldson (@guest_818254)
2 days ago
Reply to  Concerned

They had planned to fly 18 II-76s from Belerus airspace as soon as Hostomel was secured by the initial helo air assault, This failed and they turned around RTB

Concerned
Concerned (@guest_818278)
2 days ago
Reply to  Donaldson

Yep that was to bring heavier equipment in

Dern
Dern (@guest_818025)
3 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Pretty much under the same conditions that the US 82nd would conduct an actual Parachute jump: When enemy Air defence is suppressed, we have air superiority, and the ability for land forces to catch up with them is assured.

So in very few cases all things considered.

A-400 is capable of deploying parachute drops, Britain, France and Germany all use them as their primary platform now I think.

Steve
Steve (@guest_818121)
3 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I can it being more used for a reinforcement/ supply purposes. Dropping in artillery pieces and ammo/rations, but even that would be dangeous as the a400m is prettt slow.

A mass troop drop would only really be used in advance of the enemy, so at the start of the conflict when there is a need to get defensive lines set fast, or when reinforcing existing lines ahead of an enemy attack.

With manads being common, a drop on or near an enemy position would also be dangerous as you risk not only the plane but all the troops and gear.

Dern
Dern (@guest_818132)
3 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Same issues with supply and reinforcement. You need to fly low (but not too low) and slow to drop anything by Parachute. It’s not an issue with the A400 it’s a basic fact of dropping anything by parachute. A2/AD needs to be suppressed before you can even think about it, even behind your own lines.

Steve
Steve (@guest_818134)
3 days ago
Reply to  Dern

In a modern battlefield, against a peer or near peer, your never going to fully suppress them, it’s unrealistic. You can control the air itself but can’t fully take out ground based air defences.

Dern
Dern (@guest_818141)
3 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Sure you can. Look at the coalition on Iraq (and yes Iraq was considered a peer adversary at the time). Fast air flying with HARM style missiles means as soon as any radar for a SAM site starts up you shut it down. It most definitely can be done, it’s just not easy, and most probably would require the USAF (or a hypothetical centrally organised EUAF) to accomplish.

Steve
Steve (@guest_818148)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Iraq was never considered a peer. Its equipment was 20-30 years out dated and not properly maintained after the collapse of the soviet Union. Also that was 30 years ago.

Harm missiles etc are only good against semi static radars, almost zero use against a manpad. Manpad aren’t great against fighters flying high and fast but a transport plane doing a drop has neither advantage.

Dern
Dern (@guest_818150)
2 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Yeah sure, the 4th largest army in the world wasn’t considered a peer, I suggest you go back to the Gulf War and check, and yes it was 30 years ago, but the principle still remains.

News flash: Stinger entered service in the 1960’s. So the fact that we managed to suppress them in the both gulf wars is actually very relevant.

Steve
Steve (@guest_818151)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

A big army doesn’t make it a peer. Also iraq only had a very small supply of stingers which were supplied to it a decade earlier during its war with Iran. World has changed a lot since then.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818654)
1 day ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve, how would you define a peer opponent then?

Steve
Steve (@guest_818669)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Someone that matches you from a military level taking account firepower, training and tech. Iraq was never a match for the US in any of them and for sure not a match for the combined allied forces.

If it was purely the UK vs Iraq then yes, but it wasn’t.

Steve
Steve (@guest_818672)
1 day ago
Reply to  Steve

Iraq matched the allies in a raw numbers perspective but its gear was massively outdated and its forces were poorly trained outside a few core units.

Tech wise the US was decades in front, even just sat nav made a huge difference.

Steve
Steve (@guest_818675)
1 day ago
Reply to  Steve

Iraq matched the allies in a raw numbers perspective but its gear was massively outdated and its forces were poorly trained outside a few core units.

Tech wise the US was decades in front, even just gps made a huge difference.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818721)
1 day ago
Reply to  Steve

That is quite proscriptive and would prevent many major opponents today being defined as peer or even near-peer. Given the present state of the Russian Army in Ukraine (poorly led, poorly trained, poor morale, much old equipment, poor tactical handling of forces, fragile engineering support, high losses in manpower and materiel), then I doubt you would describe it as a peer or near-peer opponent for the US or NATO. But that doesn’t get us very far in figuring out how to face off against them. You certainly would not wish to be persuaded into conducting assymetric warfare. If they are… Read more »

Steve
Steve (@guest_818758)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

It’s not an easy question to answer though. If you go back 3 years would anyone have considered Ukraine a peer to Russia, I highly doubt it and they realistically weren’t at the time. The in flood of higher tech nato gear helped balance the scales. Plus Russia early logistic failures. Tactic and training wise though they are roughly the same, as if you look at the Ukraine spring offensive their approach and failure was down to following the same play book as Russia and bad training. Their only balancing factor has been a change in warfare to drones and… Read more »

Steve
Steve (@guest_818178)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Also stingers would be useless against modern jets as by the time the soldier is aware the jet is incoming and reached for his launcher it would have already dropped its bombs and be on its way. Helicopters would be a different topic, as the Russian airforce has found.

James Fennell
James Fennell (@guest_818047)
3 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Mass insertion by parachute is unlikely, but small units for specific ops at night it remains a capability we should retain. Air Assault by helicopter is however likely to remain tactically useful.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_818065)
3 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Yes, or direct from Atlas. The RGR Bn and 1 RI can do the Air Assault side. So can the Para Bns if need be.
Bde level para drop long gone.

DB
DB (@guest_818068)
3 days ago

Along with Cmdo Bde assault. The very best brigades lost. At what point is it criminal?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_818072)
3 days ago
Reply to  DB

David, I agree. I’d like both at Bde level. And to be fair, 16 Air Assault is, it has it’s components intact, restored. It is not lost At all. It could do with more firepower and some integral armour, as it once had. What it lacks is aircraft to enable a larger sized para drop, as this is at Lead AA Company Group level only now ( I think, A rarely comments now to confirm ) Does it actually need to be higher? When did we last drop a Bde, Suez? I’d place rapid AA via heli or direct onto… Read more »

John Stevens
John Stevens (@guest_818175)
2 days ago

I presume the increase range of the future Chinook’s will be a big boost to 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_818252)
2 days ago
Reply to  John Stevens

Maybe. I see them primarily for UKSF and for use from the QECs.

John Stevens
John Stevens (@guest_818282)
2 days ago

Are right! Ta

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818828)
21 hours ago

We did not drop a bde by parachute at Suez – it was a battalion – 3PARA –

“3 PARA conducted the first and last battalion parachute assault since the War when it attacked El Gamil airfield west of Port Said on 5th November 1956, during the Suez Crisis. The drop was conducted under fire and the assault and reduction of the Egyptian coastal defences before the amphibious landings cost the Battalion four killed and three officers and 29 men wounded”.

Last time we dropped a Formation – was 6 AB Div, Arnhem, 1944!

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818660)
1 day ago

I am also struggling to remember the last operational battalion or even company para drop since Suez!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_818666)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

SAS Sqn in Afghan.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818711)
1 day ago

Thanks mate.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard (@guest_818223)
2 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

A400M fully cleared now for all types of para drops. Took us a long time (the French got there first) but we got there in the end. Last time I had any intel on this no para drops were regularly envisaged except in exceptional circumstances. Insertion more preferable to para drop. SF are the only guys jumping regularly these days

Donaldson
Donaldson (@guest_818258)
2 days ago

3PARA were nearly given the go ahead last year to jump into Sudan and secure a second airfield during the evacuation of British nationals, Operation was scrubbed in the last couple hours

https://web.archive.org/web/20240404213326/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/05/13/rishi-sunak-paratooper-drop-sudan/

Donaldson
Donaldson (@guest_818259)
2 days ago

3PARA were nearly given the go ahead last year to jump into Sudan and secure a second airfield during the evacuation of British nationals, Operation was scrubbed in the last couple hours.

Telegraph reported it but seems I cannot post the link

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard (@guest_818270)
2 days ago
Reply to  Donaldson

Thanks. In all the user briefings conducted by the RAF SRO when we were bringing the A400M into service at Brize, the requirement was there but all the talk was that the army doesn’t jump anymore except in exceptional circumstances, stand fast the SF community. Too dangerous apparently and operationally questionable. You tell me, I’m a civilian, what do I know 🤷🏻‍♂️

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818824)
21 hours ago

Interesting. The dangerous thing to me is the assumption (by senior RAF officers??) that during the 30-odd year life of the A400M that it would never be used for a para drop.

Last edited 21 hours ago by Graham Moore
Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard (@guest_818910)
18 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

No, I don’t think that’s the assumption. The assumption seemed to be that the army would not perform jumps as a regular war fighting doctrine but rather as a last resort if all other options were closed to them. I mean, in the original set of user requirements there was still one for a 14 ship formation jump (that would be 1,400+ jumpers!) . The SRO leading the discussions stated that would never happen nowadays. I believe that to be the case although smaller occasional jumps I’m sure will take place, especially SF

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_819132)
24 minutes ago

Many thanks to have the definitive answer. I doubt we have 1,400+ trained and currently qualified jumpers in the army! But good to know the Requirment is there in black and white.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818825)
21 hours ago
Reply to  Donaldson

Very interesting – I had missed this story. Maybe my link will work?

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/05/13/rishi-sunak-paratooper-drop-sudan/

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818826)
21 hours ago
Reply to  Donaldson

Interesting that some members of 4PARA (an Army Reserve unit) were moved to Cyprus to jump and augment 3PARA.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard (@guest_818915)
18 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Look, I was never in the army. I’m no expert. I’m only relaying what was discussed at programme review meetings to bring the aircraft into service. I mean the requirements are still there and Airbus had to sweat blood and spend millions of its own money to meet all of them and it’s only recently that the plane has received full RAF clearance for all types of jumps. So I’m not saying it will never happen, just that I think it’s probably an operation of last resort these days, performed only if other options are not available and on a… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_819135)
22 minutes ago

Understood. Thanks for passing on the info you picked up. Very informative to us all.

Martin jones
Martin jones (@guest_818054)
3 days ago

Tactical Airborne assault improbable and impractical. It’s trench warfare and urban ops. Drones playing a big part. Dogged drawn out stuff. I guess. The Russians will start to use breve agents so all of this beard stuff in UK armed forces may be short lived

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_819147)
55 seconds ago
Reply to  Martin jones

Not every future war will be like that in Ukraine. They never are.