Pathfinder Platoon

Pathfinder Platoon

In 1984 5th Airborne Brigade was in the process of developing its Limited Parachute Assault Capability (LPAC), which required a formation of 15 Hercules aircraft to drop a parachute battalion group over 2 drop zones (DZs) in under 5 minutes, by day or night. To do this there was a requirement for the DZs to be clearly marked, in order to ensure that the crews had an easily identified reference point to allow them to drop accurately and consistently.

Pathfinders had always been used for this task from as early as 1943. However, the demise of 16th Parachute Brigade in 1977 and the disbandment of the Pathfinder Company (No 1 (Guards) Independent Company The Parachute Regiment) meant that the expertise was lost. From then on the parachute battalions were required to develop and maintain that skill themselves, which proved difficult.

The requirement for a brigade level capability led to the re-establishment of a pathfinder unit and the formation of the Pathfinder Platoon in 1985. 

From the begining much emphasis was placed upon High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) parachuting as an insertion method. In addition to the pathfinding role the platoon acted as the Brigade’s own medium range reconnaissance force, bridging the gap between the tactical recce of the battalions’ patrols platoons and strategic level recce carried out by Special Forces.

The Pathfinders currently operate within 16 Air Assault Brigade, which succeeded 5 Airborne Brigade in 1999.

During the Brigade's Op Herrick XIII tour in Afghanistan, 2010, the Pathfinders formed the major component of 16 Air Assault's Brigade Reconnaissance Force.

The Pathfinder Selection Cadre is open to soldiers of all cap badges, although there remains a very strong Parachute Regiment contingent. The selection cadre currently lasts 6 weeks and include a rigorous process to test aptitude, endurance, soldiering and field craft skills. Soldiers who successfully pass the cadre undergo a period of further indepth weapons training; high altitude parachute training in America; and survival escape resistance and evasion (SERE) training before deployment to the Pathfinders.

Read More

Photos_46

  • Pathfinder jumping from a Hercules on a HALO jump, c2008.

    Pathfinder jumping from a Hercules on a HALO jump, c2008.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinders provide cover, with a Merlin helicopter in the background, on exercise in the UK, c2008.

    Pathfinders provide cover, with a Merlin helicopter in the background, on exercise in the UK, c2008.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinders calling in a RAF Hercules onto a Temporary Landing Zone (TLZ), 2005.

    Pathfinders calling in a RAF Hercules onto a Temporary Landing Zone (TLZ), 2005.

    1 Image
  • A member of the Airborne Task Force taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior on the DZ, 2012.

    A member of the Airborne Task Force taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior on the DZ, 2012.

    1 Image
  • Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion (SERE) exercise for the Pathfinders, 2005.

    Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion (SERE) exercise for the Pathfinders, 2005.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinder OP, Sangin, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Pathfinder OP, Sangin, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Damaged Pathfinder WMIK, Nowzad, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Damaged Pathfinder WMIK, Nowzad, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinder Pinzgauer vehicle, Nowzad, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Pathfinder Pinzgauer vehicle, Nowzad, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinder Pinzgauer vehicles, Nowzad, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Pathfinder Pinzgauer vehicles, Nowzad, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinder board, Musah Qaleh, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Pathfinder board, Musah Qaleh, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • MILAN missile firing from a WMIK, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    MILAN missile firing from a WMIK, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Heavy Machine Gun mounted on a WMIK, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Heavy Machine Gun mounted on a WMIK, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Heavy Machine Guns, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Heavy Machine Guns, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • View into the rear of a WMIK, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    View into the rear of a WMIK, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Using a laptop in a WMIK, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Using a laptop in a WMIK, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Using a laptop in a WMIK, Nowzad, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Using a laptop in a WMIK, Nowzad, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • GPMG mounted on a WMIK, Musah Qaleh, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    GPMG mounted on a WMIK, Musah Qaleh, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinder WMIKs, Musah Qaleh, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    Pathfinder WMIKs, Musah Qaleh, Afghanistan, Op Herrick IV, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Tom Blakey exiting a C130, California, 2009.

    Tom Blakey exiting a C130, California, 2009.

    1 Image
  • A Pathfinder WMIK extracts from Musa Qala during Operation Snakebite, Afghanistan, 2007.

    A Pathfinder WMIK extracts from Musa Qala during Operation Snakebite, Afghanistan, 2007.

    1 Image
  • Manning a HMG on a WMIK on pre deployment training for Afghanistan, in the UK, 2006.

    Manning a HMG on a WMIK on pre deployment training for Afghanistan, in the UK, 2006.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinders provide cover having called in an RAF C130 Hercules onto a TLZ, on an exercise, 2005.

    Pathfinders provide cover having called in an RAF C130 Hercules onto a TLZ, on an exercise, 2005.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinders prepare to exit from a C130 Hercules on a HALO jump, 2005.

    Pathfinders prepare to exit from a C130 Hercules on a HALO jump, 2005.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinders landing on a DZ during training, 2005.

    Pathfinders landing on a DZ during training, 2005.

    1 Image
  • A Pathfinder undertaking a HALO jump, California, 2009.

    A Pathfinder undertaking a HALO jump, California, 2009.

    1 Image
  • Pathfinders walking out to a C130 Hercules prior to jumping on Joint Warrior, Scotland, 2012.

    Pathfinders walking out to a C130 Hercules prior to jumping on Joint Warrior, Scotland, 2012.

    1 Image Buy Prints

Group photos_4

DZ Flash_3

Solo photos_6

Aerial photos_1

Latest Comments

There are currently no comments for this content.

Add your comment

Donate

Make a donation to Airborne Assault ParaData to help preserve the history of The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces