Monday, August 24, 2009

Merlin helicopters training for Afghanistan deployment

In the last step before deploying to Afghanistan, the RAF’s Merlin Helicopter Force has started a four month training exercise in the US. The Merlins, from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, will provide vital support to operations when they arrive in Helmand, increasing the capacity of UK helicopter lift a further 25%.

The training in the US will push the crews hard and present them with some a raft of unique challenges. Two of the hardest challenges will be the environment: the ‘hot and high’ conditions.

With temperatures soaring to 50oC and rarely dropping below 35oC at night the ‘Hot’ part of the training requirement is met, along with the opportunity to test landing in dusty conditions.

‘High’ training comes in the form of mountain ranges of varying heights, which with the high temperatures means the environment allows the Merlin to operate to the limit of its capabilities, providing outstanding preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

RAF Sergeant Tom Pringle, Merlin Crewman said:
“The environment out here is very challenging but I believe that it will prepare us well for success in Afghanistan. Train hard, fight easy. The facilities are great and the Americans have been very welcoming and supportive.”

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