COLCHESTER-BASED paratroopers have made history by being the first to jump under British parachutes from a US Air Force aircraft.

Exercise Pegasus Eagle saw a C-130J Hercules from USAF’s 37th Airlift Squadron fly into RAF Brize Norton from its base at Ramstein in Germany for the joint training.

American jumpmasters and RAF Parachute Jump Instructors, who manage the despatch of paratroopers from an aircraft, first established common procedures for using the British Low Level Parachute (LLP) system on a US aircraft.

Then, soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade parachuted onto Salisbury Plain from the US aircraft under British canopies.

Gazette:

The work is about developing the ability of British and American airborne forces, which are trained and ready to deploy on operations together, to mix and share resources to make their partnership more flexible and capable.

British paratroopers have earned their US parachute wings by jumping under US T-11 canopies from US aircraft, and US soldiers have earned British parachute wings jumping LLP from RAF aircraft, but this is the first time that the nationality of parachutes and aircraft have been mixed.

Flight Lte Nick Tucker, an RAF instructor attached to 16 Air Assault Brigade, said it was a good way to show unity.

He said: “This training is all about being able to do more together. British and US paratroopers have trained to use each others parachutes for many years, and we’ve now demonstrated how we can mix aircraft and parachute systems.”

Maj Kyle Gauthier, of 37th Airlift Squadron, said: “We have each gained valuable practice of our skills, either as paratroopers or combat air lifters, and experience of working together as partner nations.

"This is very important because, if the time comes when we are operating together, we would be able to do it seamlessly having trained together on a regular basis.”