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Apache crews at Wattisham Airfield have their skills tested to the limit

PUBLISHED: 10:17 08 December 2014 | UPDATED: 10:29 08 December 2014

Soldiers who fly and maintain the Apache attack helicopter have competed against each other to be the best.

Soldiers who fly and maintain the Apache attack helicopter have competed against each other to be the best.

Crown Copyright 2014: This image may be used for current news purposes only.

Soldiers who fly and maintain the Apache attack helicopter have competed against each other as they brushed up on 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 Airfield near Needham Market.

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.

The competition was won by 4 Regt AAC HQ & Workshop, with the trophy presented by colonel Jason Etherington, commander of the base.

Staff sergeant Gregg Allen, 36, 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 relearning these skills, as well as bringing the units together and building team spirit.”

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.”

Apaches and their air and ground crews have recently returned from Afghanistan where they were based for eight years.

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