Two 5001 squadron technicians from Royal Air Force Wittering are having their first experiences of deployed engineering at Exercise Una Triangle.
Senior Aircraftman (Technician) Sean Wall (21) and Senior Aircraftman Kamal Gurung (29) are General Technicians Electrical with 5001 Squadron. Training in field conditions is a standard part of basic training, but this is the first time either airman has deployed as a qualified engineer.
For the A4 Force Units at Royal Air Force Wittering, of which 5001 Squadron is a part, Exercise Una Triangle is the acid test of their ability to set up a deployed operating base; turning a patch of bare concrete into a working military air station with engineering facilities, catering, fuel and accommodation.
5001 Squadron is the RAF’s deployable support engineering squadron. Wherever the Royal Air Force is sent, 5001 bring the aircraft shelters and airfield equipment needed to house the fast jets and provide a safe environment for ground crew.
General Technician Electrical (GTE for short) describes their role perfectly. GTEs must know how to maintain and repair almost everything electrical that isn't on an aircraft or radar. At Una Triangle Sean, Kamal and their teammates are taking care of the heating, lighting and power for the whole exercise.
For SAC(T) Wall, who completed his trade training 19 months ago, the timing of the exercise is right. He said: "It's been a long time coming. I've learned a lot being in my unit, but now I'm able to bring that knowledge across to a deployed environment."
Every cabin and tent needs power, heating and lighting. The exposed airfield at Kendrew Barracks has been resolutely cold; so generators, warm places to sleep and hot food are essential. But equipment isn't everything, you need properly trained technicians to install the kit and keep it running.
SAC Gurung will be fully qualified in May 2018 upon completing his NVQ Level 3, when he'll become an SAC(T). He said: "Because of this exercise I've been able to apply my knowledge and training and it's really good for your confidence levels."
Deployed as part of the 5001 Squadron Spearhead, both technicians have been working in the deployed battery facility. This well-equipped ISO container allows 5001 Squadron to maintain and repair aircraft and vehicle batteries. Leakage tests, cell changes and charging can all be done here.
Kamal and Sean are academically minded. Sean completed his A-Levels and Kamal's RAF career started as a gap year from his product-design degree course. Trade training at MOD St Athan has given Kamal the technical grounding he wanted and Sean access to the 'hands on' engineering he enjoys.
Squadron Leader Colin Green commands 5001 Squadron. He said: “On an individual level, exercises are about taking your training and applying it in a practical setting. This is the essence of military capability; airmen like Kamal and Sean are proving that they have the academic talent and practical skills the deployed environment needs.”
Editor: Ed Palmer
Photographer: Cpl Paul Robertshaw
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2017