MEMBERS of the armed forces, including helicopters from RAF Benson, conducted a successful training exercise in Pembrokeshire this week.

Based at Castlemartin Training Area, around 190 people were tested on their ability to deploy an Aviation Task Force Headquarters in support of contingency operations.

The operation made use of seven helicopters which have been seen flying over Pembrokeshire. They included three Pumas and two Merlins from RAF Benson, a Chinook from RAF Odiham and a Lynx from the Army Air Corp in Dishforth

Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Squadron Leader Russ Gleeson said: “The aim of the exercise is to help our staff train and develop their abilities to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct support to disaster relief operations.

“One of our key elements of training is to ensure we put some distance between ourselves and our base in Oxfordshire.

“It’s gone really well. What this site has given us is the ability to pretend we are at an international airport.The fence compound and the limited buildings here have given us an excellent opportunity to plan our arrival at a location unknown to us, where we can set up quickly to start supporting the delivery of humanitarian aid.”

Asked if the training exercise had anything to do with the NATO summit, Mr Gleeson said: “We’re not involved with the NATO summit, although we do have aircraft from Benson supporting the summit, and we are here to support them if needed. They are our highest priority. If they needed a spare aircraft we would send one.”