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UK Apaches complete Arctic training

The British Army has completed a first Arctic exercise involving its Boeing/Westland Apache AH1 attack helicopters, with the six-week activity having concluded with day and night firings using the type's 30mm cannon.

Staged from Bardufoss in Norway, exercise Clockwork also involved Leonardo AW159 Wildcat battlefield reconnaissance helicopters from the Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force's 847 NAS. The work conducted will advance the combination's ability to provide an aviation strike capability in support of the Royal Marines' 3 Commando Brigade during future operations, the army says.

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The activity saw 75 deployed personnel "working at the limits of both human and the aircraft's performance", notes Major Huw Raikes, officer commanding the Army Air Corps' 656 Sqn.

Having overcome challenges including "extremely low temperatures [down to -27˚C (-17˚F)], deep snow and limited visibility" including operating in "white-out" conditions, he adds: "we're now developing techniques to 'fight' the Apache in this environment". This process included establishing a forward arming and refuelling point to support aircraft during the manoeuvres' live-firing phase.

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"The Apache's cold weather capabilities and the relationship with 3 Commando Brigade will be further developed on NATO's exercise Cold Response in Norway next year," the army says.

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Flight Fleets Analyzer records the service as operating a current fleet of 50 Apache AH1s, aged between 14 and almost 18 years. The UK will replace these via a 50-unit procurement of AH-64E-model aircraft, to be introduced next decade.

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