RAF Chinooks and crews from 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham, are currently in California conducting specialist desert flying training.
The Chinooks are operating from Naval Air Facility, El Centro which provides vital desert training for the aircrew, engineers and support elements. They have also used the training area to conduct mountain flying, gunnery and survival training.
This training enables Chinooks to deploy on operations in hot, dusty areas, whenever and wherever required. The main difference to training in the UK is the heat. For aircrew it creates a more demanding working environment and puts the aircraft at the edge of their operating envelope. For the engineers, every task becomes more difficult and exhausting as they work under the punishing conditions.
The dusty conditions also cause detritus to be ingested into all parts of the aircraft, causing extra work for the engineers and less-than-ideal conditions for the aircrew. Training of this type improves operational capabilities for our personnel as it makes them more comfortable with working in extreme conditions.
The extended logistics chain between the deployed crews and their home base at RAF Odiham can present additional challenges. The deployed personnel are well supported by their counterparts back home who can get and send the supplies and equipment they need quickly, despite the distance.