A Royal Air Force (RAF) Atlas military transport aircraft has flown from Oxfordshire to Morocco to parachute essential supplies to British soldiers on the ground, in what is the longest-range airdrop performed by the RAF’s Atlas Force. The Atlas C1 (A400M) departed from RAF Brize Norton and a few hours later was 1,400 miles away dropping multiple packages to a small drop zone near Marrakech. Once on the ground the packages, known as Container Delivery Systems or CDS, were collected by paratroopers from the British Army’s 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, known as 2 Para, as part of Exercise Jebel Sahara.
“The large and agile Atlas was operated by pilots and load masters from 30 and LXX Squadrons based RAF Brize Norton. This is the first long-range insertion of Container Delivery Systems by Atlas, showing the aircraft’s reach and speed, and its capability to deliver large and heavy cargo to a precise coordinate without landing. We can deliver wherever help is needed, such as humanitarian aid, flood relief, or in this case, military resupply. Sometimes to deliver by road or sea would take too long or is just not possible, and Atlas has the ability to deliver over long distances, quickly and with precision,” Flight Lieutenant Kay Co-pilot said.
“47 Air Despatch has airdropped supplies around the world, from Alaska to Antarctica, and the loads are always different – it could be pallets of jerry cans or a single large boat. It’s a challenging job and we work hard to find the best solution for each load to reach the troops on the ground efficiently,” Corporal Williams said. Corporal Williams was in charge of the preparation and deployment of the Container Delivery Systems.
The cargo was prepared and deployed by soldiers from 47 Air Despatch Squadron who regularly work with RAF air mobility aircraft – the Atlas, Globemaster (C-17) and Hercules (C-130J) to deliver supplies to troops requiring equipment or civilians in desperate need. Exercise Jebel Sahara has seen 2 Para working in Morocco alongside troops from 2e Brigade d’Infanterie Parachutiste. The despatched packages had a variety of supplies, including a quad bike, vehicle trailer and rations, that were vital for the paratroopers to continue operating with their Moroccan counterparts. The three-week exercise near Marrakesh has provided an opportunity for the paratroopers to learn from the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces’ experience of operating in the hot, dry and demanding conditions of the desert. In return, 2 Para have shared their hard-earned skills in patrolling, both on foot and in vehicles, as well as marksmanship, demolitions and casualty care.