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Army's Apache helicopters dominate aviation awards

The UK’s Attack Helicopter Force (AH Force), based at Wattisham in Suffolk and part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, has picked up four awards in …

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The UK’s Attack Helicopter Force (AH Force), based at Wattisham in Suffolk and part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, has picked up four awards in recognition of the exceptional, innovative and brave work by pilots and ground crew on operations in Afghanistan and Libya.

The Johnston Memorial Trophy has been awarded to the AH Force for the sustained effort by the entire ‘UK Team Apache’ - from pilots and ground crew to industry partners who developed, built and help to maintain the aircraft - to make the Apache the weapon of first choice in counter-insurgency operations.

The honour comes in the year in which the AH Force celebrated passing 100,000 flying hours, a third of which were flown on operations in Afghanistan.

Captain (now Major) Matthew Noble-Clarke has been awarded the Grand Master’s Commendation on behalf of His Royal Highness Prince Andrew.

Between 2006 and 2010, Capt Noble-Clarke spent 19 months in Afghanistan on four tours, and was the first Apache pilot to have amassed over 1,000 hours of operational flying.

656 Squadron, 4 Regiment Army Air Corps received The Master’s Commendation for their pioneering work to deploy the Apache helicopter from Royal Navy ships in 2005 and subsequently into Afghanistan in 2006.

Since being nominated for the award, 656 Squadron have flown operational sorties over Libya from HMS Ocean as part of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR to protect civilians under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

Finally, Major David Amlot MBE has been awarded The Sir Barnes Wallis Medal in recognition of an exceptional and innovative contribution to aviation.

His work in the judgemental training of crews on rules of engagement, targeting directives and law of armed conflict, has helped crews to balance their offensive spirit against courageous restraint, saving countless lives.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London today, Thursday 27 October 2011.

AH Force Commander, Colonel Neale Moss, said:

I am delighted that the continued operational success of the AH Force has been recognised, and it is particularly pleasing to be honoured by GAPAN as fellow aviation professionals.

I congratulate each and every one of the recipients, but also the AH Force or rather ‘UK Team Apache’ as a whole.

I am hugely proud of the effort put in by all, whether ground crew, technicians, or aircrew, civilian or military; all these awards underline massive teamwork in extremely hostile conditions over an extended period of time.

The UK Apache is a highly capable and versatile aircraft that has proved its value time and time again on operations in Afghanistan and Libya.

Indeed, it is so versatile that its future role is constantly evolving. But the success of the aircraft is down to the dedicated and professional people that operate it, which these four awards recognise.

Captain Wally Epton, the Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, said:

The GAPAN awards recognise true achievement and meritorious conduct in aviation, whether by individuals, crews or whole organisations.

Each of our recipients has demonstrated a blend of skill and determination to succeed whatever the odds - they are giants amongst their fellow aviators. The four awards to the AH Force are worthy examples of this.

Published 27 October 2011