A Royal Air Force A400M Atlas, Aeromedical Evacuation and Force Protection personnel are training with Allies and Partners from over 30 countries on Exercise Mobility Guardian, the largest exercise of its type in the world.
Hosted by the US Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, over 50 aircraft and 3000 personnel from over 30 nations have gathered at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Seattle for an exercise designed to test and improve how international partners and allies conduct humanitarian relief operations.
According to a media release, the exercise scenario commenced with a mass drop of paratroopers from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division to seize a remote airfield. Known as a Joint Forceable Entry, over 500 paratroopers jumped at night with their equipment, some of which had been prepared by 47 Air Despatch Squadron, Royal Logistic Corps. Once secured responsibility passed to a multi-national force to establish the airfield and sustain the receipt and distribution of aid relief.
Security for the airfield was provided by a team of Force Protection specialists led by No 2 Squadron, RAF Regiment supported by RAF Police, reservists from the RAuxAF Regiment and personnel from Australia and Belgium.
This is the first time an RAF A400M Atlas has taken part in a major exercise giving personnel the opportunity to experience the aircraft’s capabilities in a realistic operational environment and to train for complex, modern air operations alongside NATO partners, key allies and international partners.
Air Commodore Dom Stamp is the RAF Air Mobility Force Commander. He said:
“This exercise is playing a key role in the training of our aircrews, our force protection and aeromed personnel. It’s a unique opportunity to really test, exercise and develop all our individuals work with the people who they’re going to be working with on live operations in the future.
This is one of the first main exercises for A400M. It’s proved its worth, it’s done a great job, it’s carried the US Army Stryker vehicle for the first time which gives us that interoperability with our American colleagues; we know now we can play a full part in any operation which we undertake with the Americans.
I have received a lot of plaudits from the Americans about the performance of the RAF on the exercise, we’ve certainly punched above our weight. This ex has really shown air mobility in its own right, not just as an enabler.”
The A400 has flown twice daily sorties, often on sorties with USAF and Royal Australian Air Force C-17 aircraft. In addition to transporting a variety of US military vehicles for the first time, the airlift aircraft has been used by multi-national aeromedical evacuation teams to evacuate simulated hospital patients from forward locations back to the main base.