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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Ground and skies turned into a Cumbrian 'war zone'

Military helicopters have been a regular sight in the skies above Cumbria this week as part of a training exercise by the Dutch air force.

Dutch army exercise photo
Dutch troops on the exercise

The Royal Netherlands Air Force has been using the local countryside as part of Exercise TAC Blaze, based at RAF Spadeadam on the Cumbria/ Northumbria border.

The county was chosen for its unique terrain, enabling pilots of Chinooks and Apache helicopters to receive advanced flying training.

Based on a deserted part of Carlisle Airport, the helicopter crews have been flying twice daily missions into the Spadeadam ranges.

Once there they simulate battle conditions within a combat zone.

The Chinook, a large twin rotor helicopter made by Boeing, carries 20 troops in full battle dress and has been delivering them into their simulated battle zones. Meanwhile Apaches – two-seat attack helicopters – have been seen shadowing the Chinooks to provide protection.

About 150 troops and staff have been living in a self-contained tented village within RAF Spadeadam. Each tent is made of a thick material and is heated to keep the cold Cumbrian weather out.

The training course, which finishes today, is the second visit of the year for the squadrons based at the Gilze-Rijen base in the Netherlands.

Commanding Officer, Major Arwi Klip, said: “Training in Cumbria gives our pilots and staff the chance to experience terrain and facilities not found in Holland. Months of hard work and planning have gone into making this exercise a success.”

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