Some 20 helicopters carried the 1,300 troops into action on Exercise Wessex Storm.

British, French and American paratroopers have given a powerful demonstration of how they can go side-by-side into battle by air.

Mounting at Keevil airfield on Salisbury Plain, the Ministry of Defence say that vehicles and stores were “lifted by Royal Air Force Chinook and Puma support helicopters, protected by the sensors and weapons of Army Air Corps Wildcat reconnaissance helicopters and Apache attack helicopters”. The multinational force was dropped off to assault Imber village, capturing it to use as a base for further missions on the windswept training area.

Pumas and Chinooks from RAF Benson leaving for Ex Wessex Storm.
British, French and American paratroopers have given a powerful demonstration of how they can go side-by-side into battle by air.

“The training is about confirming the 2 PARA Battlegroup’s skills and readiness to serve as the lead infantry unit within 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s global response force. Some 150 troops from the French 2e Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes and a 40-strong platoon from the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment are taking part. Their involvement is about growing understanding of each other’s capabilities and tactics, meaning our airborne forces are better prepared to operate together on future operations.

A French paratrooper looks in as another wave of 2 Para led Battlegroup troops approach via helicopter.
British, French and American paratroopers have demonstrated how they can go by air to battle together.

Today’s mission – the largest British-led air assault since Operation Moshtarak in Afghanistan in February 2010 – comes as the six-week long manoeuvres (2 Nov-12 Dec) reach their validation phase. The Battlegroup is being challenged to beat back the invasion of an ally by a hostile neighbour, fighting both conventional military units and militia-type forces. Before launching the air assault, troops had parachuted in to capture Keevil, with additional personnel, stores and vehicles delivered by RAF and French Armee de l’Air A400M transport aircraft.”

The British Army say that the 2 PARA Battlegroup is built around the paratroopers of Colchester-based 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, supported by signallers, engineers, artillery, medics and logistics specialists from 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Apache attack helicopters provide over watch support to 2 Para led Battlegroup as they move onto their objective during Exercise Wessex Storm.

The forces are training to be ready to deploy at short notice on operations around the world.

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Shame about the puma needs a replacement


The UK has joined the European project for its replacement, we could see this result in a replacement of Merlin too.


I think whatever comes from that project will probably be 10-15 years after pumas osd. Plenty of off the shelf alternatives, and Merlin doesn’t need replacing plenty more development to be had from that old workhorse

Sceptical Richard

The shame here is that of the five signatories, only France and Italy retain a credible helicopter design and development capability

Daniele Mandelli

I hope this heralds a rennaisance in 16AA.

Or at the very least arrests it’s demise.

And I dont just mean the Paras, but air landing infantry and their enablers.

Stevo H

I can’t see the unit being disbanded, it’s not just about the air mobile capabilities, it’s the fact that the Paras (and Royal Marines) are the Rottweilers of the British land forces.
All British infantry units are trained to a very high standard but if the British Government want to make a statement of intent somewhere, these regiments go in first.

John Stott

This is the type of scenario that imo is the future of “conventional” warfare. Lightly armed and highly mobile. Having been part of that scene for many moons, I used to watch the heavy capability take days and weeks to reach even a state of readiness. Then it relies on a logistics chain to sustain any progress with all its inherent faults. If people pay attention to the use of mass drone attacks by even fairly mediocre forces, as has happened of late, they will see the vulnerability of a “heavy” army. And value and “bang for buck”? Lighter mobile… Read more »

Sceptical Richard

Hear, hear!


All good points, but on the other side of the coin, air assualt/air landed/light insertion forces are only good for a short period of time. They are at the end of a long and possible easily indicted logistic chain, lack staying power and lack the ability to fight a decent peer operator with heavy armour. However saying that, a well equippped and costed Strike Bde can aleviate all those issues, but alas our Strike concept is both shit and badly equipped. The concept of ops for 16AA is all about gaining an air head, initial drop by PF, poss a… Read more »

John Stott

This argument has raged for a few years eh? My thinking moved on after Gulf 1, the sheer amount of time to put a UK Division in the field was the point l started to question the whole Orbat concept as far as UK Forces are concerned. Especially as the French Legion were within fifty miles of Baghdad because they are “light”. Goose Green showed what aggression can achieve. Guess myself and a few others do not believe in massed formations anymore, they are too technical in nature, and even the US Army War College admits conventional methods will run… Read more »


Agree in the fact that to get an Armoured formation of any size into the theatre of ops is a horrendous logisitical task, one i doubt we can do anymore. We dont have even have enough HETs etc never mind the railway lads. But I am still a believer that Light formations need to be supported and backed up by heavy (I was light formation for 29 years lol). Armour is still essential for the shock effect, the kinetic effect and the morale effect…and to take and hold ground you need that mix of capabilites which are diverse and mutualy… Read more »


Totally agree and being that you were from that funny lot that liked landing on their heads for fun, know all about Operation Market Garden! It was 76 tears ago, but the analogy still stands today. Without backup from heavy forces a light force will be quickly overwhelmed by an armoured mechanized force. I think it was Napoleon who said: “wars are won and lost on logistics”! In any future war, we would be lucky to have any ammo left after two weeks of a peer versus peer conflict. The most recent conflicts in Ukraine and the latest Armenian/Azerbaijan scrap… Read more »


DON’T MENTION STRIKE!!!! Now you’ve got me angry……lol 💩. Pretty much summed up my thoughts exactly in one post.

Daniele Mandelli

I second Airbornes comment.

Great post.

The enablers. Never forget the enablers!
Bloody cap badge mafia.

John Stott

Pegasus knows many things.

Stevo H

Most of 16 air assault are based in Colchester, where I live, so we see them about pretty much every day. Chinook, Apaches, Wildcats and Pumas fly about all the time.


Always a good exercise, well at least the last part when it all comes together….