British Army, Challenger 2 in Exercise SAIF SAREEA in Oman (crown Copyright, 2018) [880]

Exercise SAIF SAREEA 3

British Army in Joint Military Training Exercise with Oman

Exercise SAIF SAREEA 3 (Ex SS3), Arabic for “Swift Sword”, is a combined military training exercise between British and Omani Armed Forces. The land forces will train in Oman and naval forces in Omani and international waters nearby. Air forces from the two countries will operate throughout in support.

Some 5,500 UK Regular and Reserve military personnel are participating alongside over 60,000 Omanis from the Sultan’s Armed Forces.

Exercise SAIF SAREEA 3 runs concurrently with NATO’s Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE in Norway. Both exercises showcase the utility of the British Army and its role in protecting the nation.

Ex SS3 demonstrates the UK’s commitment to international allies and our ability to conduct a strategic deployment of a warfighting force to the Middle East. It will strengthen our tri-Service relationships with Oman and will help develop their Joint, Interoperable, Defence capabilities.

UK Armour Arrives in Oman

Two ‘roll-on roll-off’ ships transported armoured vehicles to Oman ahead of Exercise Saif Sareea 3.

The shipping of the equipment for the exercise is co-ordinated and delivered by Joint Forces Command (JFC), who will co-ordinate sea and air transportation (often heading to the new Joint Logistics Support Base) prior to and following the exercise.

The equipment being transported to Oman will be crucial to the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Royal Marine activity during the exercise.

The 2 RORO ships which arrived this week in Duqm left the military port in Marchwood, near Southampton, in late July. The ships sailed into the Port of Duqm on the 10 and 14 August, each with a cargo of over 3,500 tonnes. The MOD released photographs showing Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle being transported from the port to the Joint Logistics Support Base in Duqm.

The cargo included vehicles such as Warrior armoured fighting vehicles, Scimitar CVRT (combat vehicle reconnaissance tracked) and Bulldog personnel carriers.

Soldiers from 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, laboured in the heat of the morning to unload vehicles and containers. Corporal Jennifer MacPhee-Peace (32), a Port Operator said: “Because it’s so hot, you just want to get it done with, we unlashed everything within an hour.”

Over 200 vehicles were unloaded from the ship belonging to:

  • 1 Mercian
  • 22 Royal Engineers
  • Royal Tank Regiment
  • 40 Commando Royal Marines
  • Commando Helicopter Force

The vehicles and other logistical equipment will be transported onwards to the Joint Logistics Support Base in Duqm and other locations ahead of the start of the exercise in October.

Army Air Corps in SAIF SAREEA

The Apache attack helicopters of 664 Squadron, 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, will be taking part in Exercise Saif Sareea 3, among more than 5,000 British personnel from all three services training alongside the Omani military in October.

To confirm its readiness 664 Sqn, based at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk, has been put through its paces this week on Exercise Archers Alastor (28 – 30 Aug). Air crew carried out day and night qualification shoots with CRV7 rockets and 30mm cannon at Holbeach Air Weapons Range in Lincolnshire, with the Apaches replenished at a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) – the military equivalent of a Formula 1 pit stop – at Sculthorpe airfield in Norfolk.

Exercise Saif Sareea is a fantastic opportunity which will showcase all of the Squadron’s equipment, capabilities and people. Major David Mills

Major David Mills, Officer Commanding 664 Sqn AAC, said: “Exercise Saif Sareea is a fantastic opportunity which will showcase all of the Squadron’s equipment, capabilities and people. We’re overcoming the logistic challenges of shipping the Apache, including all of the associated equipment and munitions by sea to Oman, and are ready for the complexities of maintaining the Apache in the desert and operating in support of British armoured infantry and our Omani partners. Before we deploy it’s been great to get the Squadron out on our home turf for a final test of our skills – both on the ground and in the air, and including the first CRV7 rockets fired at Holbeach.”

Oman will be the first overseas exercise for many of 664 Sqn’s junior soldiers, such as aviation groundcrew specialist Airtrooper Ben Bowes-Bellamy. The 19-year-old from Blackpool said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge. My role is about refuelling and re-arming the Apache, and doing that in the desert in Oman will be a different and demanding environment to test my skills.”

Airtrooper Harry Woodward, 20 from Ellesmere Port, said: “I’m really keen to get out and do my job overseas. It’s great to work on the Apache, which is a very robust aircraft but will need extra care and attention in a hot and dusty environment. It’s also about looking after yourself in different conditions. A lot of the more senior groundcrew served in Afghanistan, so there’s a lot I want to learn from them about working in the desert.”

Other HM Armed Forces uits taking part include the Royal Navy’s HMS Albion.

SAIF SAREEA Dates

Ex SS3 will happen in 5 phases:

  1. The Army is deploying 2,000 soldiers on the exercise, with around 800 on the ground as exercising troops, 185 Armoured Fighting Vehicles and other equipment from the UK to Oman
  2. National forces training will happen 1-16 Oct
  3. Integration of the UK Battle Group with Omani forces will take place
  4. Final test exercise 24-27 Oct
  5. Firepower demonstration showcasing the combined effects of UK and Omani forces 29 Oct – 3 Nov

The UK has a long and established defence relationship with Oman, with strong bonds and shared values. Exercise SAIF SAREEA 3 is the largest joint exercise of its kind for 15 years underpinning one of the UK’s bilateral strategic partnerships.


Sources: UK armoured vehicles arrive in Oman ahead of Exercise Saif Sareea 3; Exercise SAIF SAREEA 3; Apaches on target for Oman exercise

Image: a Challenger II Main Battle Tank of the British Army’s Royal Tank Regiment in Oman for Ex SAIF SAREEA 3 (Crown Copyright, 2018).