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Soldiers who fly and maintain the Apache attack helicopter have competed against each other to be the best as they relearn the skills needed for future operations.
The inaugural Rhino Trophy contest saw 3 and 4 Regiment Army Air Corps’ squadrons put through their paces at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk. The five elements of the competition tested the full range of skills required to operate the Apache – mission planning and communications, refuelling and rearming, and a simulated flight mission – as well as the soldier’s wider military skills of recovering bogged-in vehicles and a march and shoot.
Wednesday’s (26th) competition was won by 4 Regt AAC HQ & Workshop, with the trophy presented with by Colonel Jason Etherington, Commander of Wattisham Flying Station.
Staff Sergeant Gregg Allen, 36 from Great Yarmouth, said: “We’ve put a lot of effort in to preparing for the competition and we’ve been rewarded by winning. With the cycle of operations in Afghanistan we haven’t used some of the abilities we’ve been tested on today for some years. Doing this competition has been a good way of start relearning these skills, as well as bringing the units together and building team spirit.”
Airtrooper Mark Logan, 19 from Selly Oak, took part in the march and shoot and ground crew test.
“It means a lot to win,” he said. “As HQ Squadron the frontline squadrons look down on us a bit, but we’ve proved that our skills are just as good.”
The competition is named in honour of 6 Armoured Brigade, which had a Rhino as its symbol. The brigade worked with 3 Regt AAC in Germany in the 1980s to develop the British Army’s doctrine and techniques for operating attack helicopters.
Colonel Etherington said: “The trophy was last presented in the 1980s and was sitting at Army Air Corps headquarters, so a call went out for units to use it. I came up with the idea of a competition to test our sub-units, both on how they operate the Apache and their general military skills.
“We operated the Apache in Afghanistan for eight years and Camp Bastion was a hardened and secure area to work in with a steady pattern of training and deployments. We didn’t need to use our wider military skills, and this competition is about resetting our mindset and refreshing the skills we need to operate in austere environments anywhere in the world.”
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British Army Press Release Dated 21 Nov 2014