A Bridlington soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan has been testing his skills as part of a military exercise in Cumbria.
Lance Corporal Aaron Graham works as part of the ground crew for 9 Regiment Army Air Corps (9 AAC) which was in the North West on its last solo UK training exercise before it disbands and personnel take up new roles next year.
Aaron, 25, is part of the ground support flight; soldiers trained in refuelling, rearming and aircraft handling. He joined the Army nine years ago, he said: “My day-to-day job is to provide ground support for the helicopters and safety assurance for the crews. Since we’ve drawn down from Afghanistan the aircraft has had a reconnaissance role, and that’s what we’ve been testing.”
Around 200 servicemen and women took part in the exercise which saw six Lynx Mark 9A air crews flying out of Carlisle Lake District Airport on low-flying flying reconnaissance missions over Kielder Forest and RAF Spadeadam training area.
Aaron and the rest of the 9 AAC are based at Dishforth, North Yorkshire, as the light utility helicopter regiment for 16 Air Assault Brigade. But the regiment’s 669 and 672 Aviation Reconnaissance Squadrons, along with headquarters staff and support crews such as medics, engineers and logistics teams, relocated to Carlisle for a week to simulate missions against a fictional enemy.
Former Bridlington School pupil Aaron said: “It’s very fulfilling work; while in Afghanistan I was attached to an infantry regiment and my role was to get injured soldiers on to the back of aircraft and help to save lives.”
The Lynx 9A was upgraded for operations in Afghanistan and is the forbear for the future Wildcat aircraft which the regiment’s personnel will convert to when it merges with 1 Regiment Army Air Corps in June next year.
Aaron, who has a three year-old daughter with his wife Laura, added: “Exercise Cumbria Capri has been testing all our capabilities for future operations. We’ve been living in a woodland area under a waterproof sheet on ground that’s quite boggy with some rain. But it’s exciting; working with these aircrafts is something I look forward to when I get up in the morning.”