A 47 Squadron C-130J Hercules operating from RAF Akrotiri has been conducting tactical refuelling of British Army Wildcat helicopters, which are deployed on a NATO mission in Estonia called Operation CABRIT. This activity is know as an air landed aircraft refuelling point and enables aircraft to be refuelled in austere locations away from their main operating bases. The fuel is provided directly from the aircraft through a network of pipes and pumps. This extends the distance the helicopter can fly and increases the availability of the aircraft by eliminating the need to transit back to base.
This training provides valuable realistic training in an unfamiliar environment to both C-130 and Wildcat crews and proves a capability that can be used to refuel aircraft at temporary landing zones. 30 Squadron have also developed this capability for the Atlas A400M aircraft. In December 2016 the Squadron ceased flying the C-130J Hercules and entered a period of transition preparing to operate the A400M Atlas. The Squadron’s crest of a black Real Date Palm tree signifies the unit’s origins and significant actions in the desert, with the motto “Ventre A Terre” meaning ‘Flat Out’ on operations.
It is part of an extensive work to increase the ability of the RAF, Royal Navy and British Army to work together on operations and as part of a wider NATO force. Operation CABRIT is a UK led operational deployment to Estonia where British Army troops are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence. The Wildcat Mk1 helicopters were operated by 659 Squadron of 1 Army Air Corps. The helicopters can perform a range of tasks on the battlefield including reconnaissance, command and control, transportation of troops and material, and the provision of force protection.