Chilling exercise for soldier

A soldier from Tadcaster has been maintaining the British Army’s potent Apache attack helicopter on a ground-breaking exercise inside the Arctic Circle.

Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 12:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 12:42 pm
Lance Corporal, James Stark, 22, Tadcaster Apaches make Arctic debut The British Armys potent Apache attack helicopters are making their flying debut inside the Arctic circle. Facing temperatures dropping to -30C and white-out flying conditions, 656 Squadron 4 Regiment Army Air Corps is taking part in Exercise Clockwork at Bardufoss in Norway. The Apaches are flying alongside the Wildcat battlefield reconnaissance helicopters of the Commando Helicopter Force, learning how to operate together in some of the planets harshest weather conditions. Training in the Arctic builds on the Apaches battle-winning abilities that have already been proved on combat operations in the maritime and desert environments. A key role for 4 Regt AAC is to maintain a force of Apaches on standby to provide an aviation strike capability to the Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade, the British militarys extreme cold weather warfare specialists. The training culminated in a live firing package, which saw groundcrew deploy out in to

Lance Corporal James Stark, 22, is an avionics technician with 656 Squadron, 4 Regiment Army Air Corps.

The squadron is on Exercise Clockwork at Bardufoss in Norway, operating the Apache in the Arctic for the first time.

LCpl Stark is part of a team of soldiers maintaining the Apache’s electronics, weapons systems and sensors in temperatures dropping to -27C.

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The former Tadcaster Grammar School pupil said: “I can’t believe how cold it is, but to me it’s just adding a different challenge on top of our job.

“You have to think about keeping warm and looking after yourself more, but we’ve still got to get the work done so the Apache can fly.”

LCpl Stark, based at Wattisham Flying Station, has been in the Army for three years.

To take part in Exercise Clockwork he had to complete the Royal Marines’ cold weather course, including sleeping in a snow hole and jumping into a frozen lake to demonstrate the ability to climb out unaided.

“The training was really tough but definitely worth doing,” he said.

“It’s important to have learnt the skills to survive in cold weather, because if you don’t treat it with respect you’ll get into difficulties.”