British and French troops have performed parachute jumps using each other's aircraft and equipment as they work towards a closer relationship.
Exercise Eagles Vol saw soldiers from Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade jump alongside their French counterparts from 11e Brigade Parachutiste (11e BP) in Pau, South West France, on Thursday 5 July.
Both brigades provide their armies’ rapid reaction forces, held at high readiness to deploy on operations anywhere in the world. They have been tasked to develop a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force for contingency operations ranging from disaster relief to war-fighting.
The exercise saw British paratroopers jump wearing French Ensemble de Parachutage Individuel parachutes from a French C-160 Transall aircraft, while French troops jumped from an RAF C-130 Hercules with British low-level parachutes. By doing the jumps, the soldiers earned the other country’s parachute wings, with a presentation ceremony held on the drop zone.
Experts from the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit also inspected the vehicles and equipment used by 11e BP for airborne operations to assess what could be transported in British aircraft on a joint mission.
Colonel Andrew Jackson, Deputy Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said:
This exercise has been a major practical step forward in developing our relationship with 11e Brigade Parachutiste, which shares a very similar role and outlook to 16 Air Assault Brigade.
As airborne troops, there is no better way for us to get to know each other than to parachute together. It has been valuable to see each other’s equipment and procedures, both on the ground and in the air, and learn from the different approaches we take to the same challenges.
Colonel Xavier Vanden Neste, Deputy Commander of 11e BP, said:
We are glad to welcome our British brothers-in-arms of the famous 16 Air Assault Brigade to the French parachute training school in Pau.
A common parachute session is a major opportunity to improve our interoperability and to prepare ourselves technically, physically and psychologically for a future common commitment, hopefully on operations.
The partnership between the two brigades is part of closer military cooperation between Britain and France following the signing of the Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty in November 2010.
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