British Army, Army Air Corps, 4 Regiment, 656 Squadron, Ex Clockwork, Norway (Crown Copyright)

Army Apaches Make Arctic Circle Debut

British Army Air Corps on Exercise Clockwork in Norway

The British Army’s Apache attack helicopters have made their flying debut inside the Arctic circle on Exercise Clockwork in Norway.

Facing temperatures dropping to -30C and white-out flying conditions, 656 Squadron, 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps, is taking part in Exercise Clockwork at Bardufoss in Norway.

Army Air Corps Training with the Commando Helicopter Force

The Apaches are flying alongside the Wildcat battlefield reconnaissance helicopters of the Commando Helicopter Force, learning how to operate together in some of the planet’s harshest weather conditions. Training in the Arctic builds on the Apache’s battle-winning abilities that have already been proved on combat operations in the maritime and desert environments.

The AgustaWestland Apache AH1D is a licence-built version of the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter for the British Army Air Corps.

A key role for 4 Regiment AAC is to maintain a force of Apaches on standby to provide an aviation strike capability to the Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade, the British military’s extreme cold weather warfare specialists.

Strategic Basing in Northern Norway

Bardufoss Air Station in Northern Norway is the base of the Royal Norwegian Air Force 139 Air Wing and two helicopter squadrons (337 Squadron and 339 Squadron), and the home of the Royal Norwegian Air Force Flight Training School.

The Norwegian Army’s major warfighting formation, Brigade Nord, is also based near Bardufoss. The Armoured Battalion operates the Leopard 2 main battle tank.

Live Firing Brings Ex Clockwork to a Close

Exercise Clockwork culminated in a live firing package, which saw groundcrew deploy out in to the field to run a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) – the military equivalent of a Formula 1 pit stop – to support Apaches carrying out day and night qualification shoots with 30mm cannon.

Originally formed in 1942 during the Second World War, 656 Squadron was the first operational Apache Squadron in the Army Air Corps and was awarded fully operational status in June 2005. The new Apache force was soon in action. In 2006, 656 Squadron was the lead aviation for the British Army’s deployment to Afghanistan in May on Operation TORAL.

The Arctic Circle is expected to become an area of growing military competition with the Russian Federation.

Source: MOD.

Image: an Army Air Corps Apache AH1D helicopter, with a Norwegian Leopard 2 main battle tank in the foreground, during Exercise Clockwork by PO Phot Des Wade (Royal Navy) (Crown Copyright, 2019).