3 Regiment Army Air Corps

3 Regiment Army Air Corps (3 Regt AAC) is a regiment of the British Army and is part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade and Attack Helicopter Force (AHF), which is under the authority of the Joint Helicopter Command (JHC).[2] As of April 2022, this regiment's commanding officer (CO) is Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Simon Wilsey[3] and it is based at Wattisham Flying Station[note 1] in Suffolk, England.[4] This regiment operates the Apache AH Mk1[note 2] and AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.[5][note 3]

3 Regiment Army Air Corps
3 Regt AAC Tactical Recognition Flash
3 Regt AAC Tactical Recognition Flash
Active24 October 1969 – present
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch British Army
448 personnel[1]
Part ofAttack Helicopter Force
Army Air Corps stationWattisham Flying Station
Lt Col Simon Wilsey
Regiment badge heraldryThe regimental crest is the Army Air Corps crest with the roman numeral III beneath it.
Aircraft flown
AttackApache AH Mk1 & Apache AH-64E

History edit

On October 24, 1969, the 3 Division Aviation Regiment was formed.[6][7] At that time, it comprised the 653 Aviation Squadron (Netheravon), the 664 Aviation Squadron (Perham Down), the 665 Aviation Squadron (Colchester) and the 666 Aviation Squadron (Plymouth) as well as 2 Aviation Flight (Perham Down).[6] On January 1, 1973, the regiment was renamed 3 Regiment Army Air Corps (3 Regt AAC) and each of its Aviation Squadrons (Sqns) were re-designated Squadron AAC.[7]

Around 1978,[7] the regiment was reformed at Salamanca Barracks in Soest, Germany, where it was composed of the 653 Sqn AAC and 663 Sqn AAC.[7] In 1982, the 662 Sqn AAC was reassigned from 2 Regt AAC to 3 Regt AAC and moved to Salamanca Barracks as well.[7] During this period, the regiment operated Gazelle Mk1 and Lynx Mk7 helicopters[8][9][10] with the mission of providing direct aviation support to 3 (United Kingdom) Division (The Iron Division)[11][note 4] in the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).[6] The regiment remained in Germany until 1992.[6][7]

In the summer of 1993, 3 Regt AAC, then comprising the 653, 662, and 663 Sqns, was relocated to the Wattisham Flying Station, Suffolk in support of 24 Air Mobile Brigade which was renamed the 16 Air Assault Brigade in 1999 and created from elements of 5 Airborne Brigade and 24 Airmobile Brigade.[12] In 2005, all of the regiment's squadrons began converting from the Lynx to the Apache AH Mk1 attack helicopter.[13]

In 2022, the regiment began to transition to the Apache AH-64E. They received 14 of the new attack helicopters on January 21, 2022. They expect to receive an additional 36 AH-64Es by summer, 2024, to complete the transition.[4]

Deployments edit

Elements of the 3 Regiment AAC have been deployed multiple times since its formation. In its early history, elements of the 3 Regt AAC served roulemont tours of duty in Northern Ireland and Belize.[10]

1995 Operation HAMDEN

In August, 1995 662 Sqn was deployed to Croatia for a 3-month tour of duty as part of Operation HAMDEN in support of the United Nations Rapid Reaction Force to Croatia.[9] Sqn 663 took part in roulemont tours in Croatia at this time.[10]

1996 Exercise MEDICINE MAN 3

662 Sqn deployed to Canada to take part in Exercise Medicine Man 3 during June and July 1996.[9]

1997 Exercise GRAND PRIX 2

In January 1997, 662 Sqn deployed again, this time to Kenya, to take part in Exercise GRAND PRIX 2 with the role of supporting the 1 Royal Scots.[9]

1997, 1999 Bosnia

Sqn 662 engaged in regimental training exercises to practice mountain-flying techniques at RAF Lossiemounth, Scotland in preparation for deployment to Bosnia in 1999. The squadron's tour in Bosnia lasted 6 months.[9] Sqn 663 also took part in roulemont tours in Bosnia in 1997 and 1999.[10]

1999 Operation AGRICOLA

In 1999 the 653 Sqn deployed to Kosovo in support of Operation AGRICOLA, part of the UK's contribution to NATO's Operation Joint Guardian, the core of NATO's Kosovo Peace Keeping Force (KFOR).[14][15]

2000 Exercise IRON HAWK

Mid summer, 2000, Sqn 662, Sqn 663, and elements of Sqn 653 deployed to the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Canada to take part in the training operation Exercise IRON HAWK.[9]

2003 Operation TELIC 1

Between January and July 2003, elements of the 3 Regt AAC deployed to Iraq as part of Operation TELIC 1. This deployment included 12 Lynx AH 7/9 and 10 Gazelle AH1 helicopters from 662 Sqn and 663 Sqn.[10][16][note 5]

2006 Exercise CRIMSON STORM

Exercise CRIMSON STORM was a two-week training exercise that took place in February 2006. Initial training for this exercise took place at the Stanford Training Area (STANTA). After initial training, the regiment relocated to Keevil Airfield from which it launched mock raids and reconnaissance (recces) missions onto Bodmin Moor. During this exercise, the regiment also conducted fighting in built-up areas (FIBUA) training on Salibury plain.[17]

2006 Operation OCULUS

March 2006, as part of Operation OCULUS, the regiment deployed 5 Lynx helicopters and 80 personnel from its 653 Sqn for a six-month tour to Bosnia-Herzegovina. While there, they operated in Sarajevo and Banja-luka in support of the European Peace Keeping Force.[17]

2012 - 2014 Operation HERRICK

Elements of 3 Regt AAC deployed repeatedly to Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick. On one occasion, after returning from a four-month deployment in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, the personnel of 662 Sqn were awarded Operational Service Medals. The award ceremony took place at Wattisham Flying Station on May 9, 2013, where Prince Charles, Colonel in Chief, Army Air Corps, handed the Operational Service Medals to the members of the squadron.[12][18]

2018 Exercise TALON GRAVIS

Eight Apache attack helicopters of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps during Exercise Talon Gravis, 2018.

In June 2018, 3 Regt AAC took part in Exercise TALON GRAVIS. Operating out of Wattisham Flying Station, this training mission pitted the regiment against simulated enemy air defenses and required the regiment to find various targets as far away as 300 miles away. The missions were flown by formations of up to eight Apaches during both day and night conditions. They even practiced replenishing at a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) at Keevil airfield.[19]

2019 Operation CABRIT

April 15, 2019, Helicopters from the 663 Sqn left Wattisham Flying Station beginning a 3-month deployment to Estonia. There they joined Operation CABRIT, an ongoing operation in the Baltic states as part of the UK's contribution to NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (EFP). The addition of the 663 Sqn, boosted the UK's presence in the Baltic states to around 1,000 personnel making the UK the largest contributor to the eFP. During this deployment, 663 Sqn took part in Estonia's annual Exercise Spring Storm, a training exercise for the NATO allies.[20]

3 Regt AAC participation in the royal wedding edit

During the royal wedding, members of 3 Regt AAC, under the command of Captain William Zehner, formed one of the five half companies that lined the route of the royal carriage. The half company consisted of one officer and twenty-four other ranks, drawn from each cap badge represented within the Regiment (Army Air Corps, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and the Adjutant General's Corps).[21]

Prince Harry of Wales affiliation with 3 Regt AAC edit

Prince Harry 'Captain Wales' served as an attack helicopter pilot in 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment AAC, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Tom de la Rue.[22] The prince participated in various exercises, both at home and overseas, and deployed to Afghanistan with the squadron on Operation Herrick from September 2012 to January 2013. During his time in the regiment, he completed a series of tests to gain aircraft commander status so as to qualify to command single-handedly multi-ship and helicopter attack in missions day and night.[23]

Composition edit

The regiment consists of:

No. 653 Squadron AAC

No. 662 Squadron AAC

No. 663 Squadron AAC

See also edit

List of Army Air Corps aircraft units

Notes edit

  1. ^ Also known as Wattisham Airfield. Prior to its take over by the Army Air Corps, it was the Royal Air Force Station Wattisham.
  2. ^ The Apache AH Mk1 is a variant of the U.S. Army's AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter. The Mk1 was built under license from Boeing by AgustaWestland for the British Army. AgustaWestland called it the WAH-64 but, its official designation from the Ministry of Defense is the Apache AH Mk1."Apache AH Mk1 Attack Helicopter - Army Technology". 6 March 2013.
  3. ^ 3 Regiment AAC is transitioning to the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter. They received 14 new AH-64E Apaches on January 21, 2022 and they expect to receive 36 more by summer 2024."British Army flying new elite attack helicopters". 21 January 2022.
  4. ^ It is not unusual to see the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division referred to as the 3rd (UK) Armoured Division. The 3rd (UK) Division is in fact an armoured division although, the current name no longer includes the word armoured.
  5. ^ Further reading History - Op TELIC Stabilisation Operations Apr/May 03

References edit

  1. ^ "Army – Question for Ministry of Defence". p. 1. Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Joint Helicopter Command". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Army celebrates civic honours with countrywide parades". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Apache attack helicopters start test flights at Wattisham". BBC News. 21 January 2022. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  5. ^ "Army Air Corps". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d "History of 3 Regiment AAC". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "British Army units from 1945 on - Major Units 1 to 4". british-army-units1945on.co.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  8. ^ "History of 653 Sqn AAC". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "History of 662 Squadron AAC". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e "History of 663 Sqn AAC". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  11. ^ "3rd (United Kingdom) Division". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  12. ^ a b "3 Regiment AAC | ParaData". www.paradata.org.uk. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  13. ^ "From 1993: The Army Air Corps | Wattisham Station Heritage Museum". Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  14. ^ "653 Sqn History". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  15. ^ "NATO & Kosovo: Operation Joint Guard". www.nato.int. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  16. ^ "Microsoft Word - Operation Telic 1 - Order of Battle" (PDF).
  17. ^ a b "3 Regiment - History". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  18. ^ "UK forces: operations in Afghanistan". GOV.UK. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Apache shows its range and power". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  20. ^ Liam. "Army Air Corps Deploys on Op CABRIT". Warfare.Today. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  21. ^ "A Familiar Face at the Royal Wedding | Dartmouth Alumni". alumni.dartmouth.edu. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  22. ^ "A statement by The Ministry of Defence announcing Prince Harry has arrived in Afghanistan to begin tour of duty". royal.uk. 7 September 2012.
  23. ^ "Prince Harry Qualifies As Apache Commander". Sky News. Retrieved 17 April 2022.

Bibliography edit

  • Marshall, C (1990). The World's Great Military Helicopters. New York City: Gallery Books. ISBN 0-8317-9679-0.
  • Watson, G; Rinaldi, R (2005). The British Army in Germany: An Organizational History 1947-2004. Tiger Lily Publications. ISBN 0-9720296-9-9.