SPTA logs 2010   More SPTA Reports  
Exercise 'Pashtun Rat 10-1'
Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA)
February 8-19, 2010
Exercise Pashtun Rat 10-1 involved around 20 helicopters from UK's Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) and is a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) or Field Training Exercise (FTX) to prepare some 3,500 troops for deployment to Afghanistan later in the year. The 4th Mechanised Brigade (4 Mech Bde) based at Catterick will deploy to Helmand Province in April the MRX gave them the opportunity to fine tune their procedures. Nearly 20 helicopters with 430 wheeled and 70 tracked vehicles were in operation mostly within the confines of the vast Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) in southern England.

The JHC helicopters in operation were from the RAF, Army Air Corps and Fleet Air Arm and were in need of a regular supply of fuel which was supplied by the RAF's Tactical Supply Wing (TSW) of JHC based at MOD Stafford, using a field based Forward Refuelling Point (FRP). The 'Farp' as it is commonly known, which in a live situation becomes a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP), can hot refuel up to three helicopters simultaneously and in a matter of minutes, having only given two or three minutes notice over the radio. TSW personnel sprint from their campsite base hidden in a copse of trees adjacent to the 'Farp' as each helicopter approaches to perform Rotor Turning Refuels (RTRs). For the duration of the exercise their fuel was in demand 24 hours a day. The fuel was dispensed from two or sometimes three large Oshkosh Combat Support Tankers (CST) which have a capacity of 3,960 gallons (15,000 litres) of fuel when utilised as a Tactical Aircraft Refueller (TAR). The CST can be used for water if required.
JHC utilised a range of assets during the two week exercise, including; Chinook HC.2s from 18(B) and 27 Squadron with Merlin HC.3s from 28 and 78 Squadron RAF, Commando Sea King HC.4s from 845 and 848 Naval Air Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm and Apache AH.1s from 4 Regiment with Lynx AH.9s from 9 Regiment Army Air Corp (AAC). 9 Regiment started receiving the upgraded AH.9A Lynx in December 2009 at Dishforth. Four AH.9s are part of the upgrade program carried out by AgustaWestland at Yeovil, the new variant will deploy to Afghanistan as soon as hot and high conversion training in Kenya as been completed in May. They are better equipped to operate in the extreme weather conditions of Helmand Province. 22 Lynx are planned for the upgrade to AH.9A standard.
Apache AH.1 (ZJ187) of 4 Regiment AAC arriving at the Forward Refuelling Point (FRP) with the RAF's Tactical Supply Wing (TSW) personnel running out to refuel the helicopter using the Oshkosh Combat Support Tankers (CST).   
Left to right: Lynx AH.9 (ZG918) of 9 Regiment AAC based at Dishforth.
Lynx AH.9 (ZG921) of 9 Regiment Army Air Corps based at Dishforth.  
Left to right: Chinook HC.2A (ZH896) of 18(B)/27 Squadron Odiham Wing RAF.  
Left to right: Apache AH.1 (ZJ187) of 4 Regiment AAC based at Wattisham. The Apache takes seven to ten minutes to refuel.    
Lynx AH.9 (ZF540) of 9 Regiment AAC, Dishforth.
Left to right: Lynx AH.9 (ZF540) of 9 Regiment AAC based at Dishforth.    
Left to right: Sea King HC.4 (ZA310 'B') of 845 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) Royal Navy.  
Left to right: Apache AH.1 (ZJ176) with 4 Regiment AAC   
Left to right: Apache AH.1 (ZJ203) of 4 Regiment AAC  
4 Regiment Apache AH.1 leaving the Forward Refuelling Point (FRP)
Left to right: Chinook HC.2A (ZH896) of 18(B)/27 Squadron from RAF Odiham.