Seventeen aircraft from the UK's Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) are taking part in a major pre-deployment exercise on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, providing support for British land forces due to begin operations in Afghanistan during April.

Dubbed "Pashtun Jaguar", the JHC manoeuvres are being staged from Netheravon Camp until mid-February, with around 1,000 flight hours due to be recorded. Involved in the exercise are British Army Westland Lynx and Apache AH1 aircraft, Royal Air Force AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin and Boeing CH-47 Chinook (HC3 version pictured, below) transports and Royal Navy Sea Kings. Also participating is a camera-equipped army Eurocopter Gazelle, which is simulating the presence of an unmanned air vehicle.

RAF Chinook
 © SSgt Ian Houlding RLC/Crown Copyright

"We are here to support 3 Commando Brigade, and to validate our crews, headquarters and ground crew for their role in Afghanistan," says Col Neil Sexton, assistant director operations at the JHC.

Air crews will also undergo so-called "judgemental training" during the exercise, to assess their decision-making against the rules of engagement that they will work to once in theatre.

 British Army Apache - Craig Hoyle
© Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal

Source: Flight International