In September 2003 Wattisham hosted a major NATO meeting. Many visiting dignitaries and participants arrived by air and as part of the meeting a firepower demonstration was held at Wattisham.
The nearby airfield of Elmsett was utilised as a staging point for the firepower demonstration, and the photographs here were taken at Elmsett.
A pair of RAF Chinook helicopters were positioned at Elmsett to airlift heavy equipment onto Wattisham as part of the demonstration.
The CH-47 Chinook is still the heavy-lift helicopter of choice in NATO, and has been flying since 1962. The RAF has been operating the Chinook since 1980, and it has seen combat service in The Falklands, The Gulf and Afghanistan.
18 Squadron have been involved in all RAF Chinook operations, and provide heavy lift support and transport to Joint Helicopter Command from their base at Odiham, Hampshire.
The demonstration today was to rapidly transport two artillery pieces and ammunition and crews into the “combat zone”. The L118 light gun is a 105mm towed howitzer, weighing almost two tons, which is an easy underslung load for a Chinook.
The L118 can fire at targets over 10 miles away at a sustained rate of 3 rounds per minute. It can be served by a 3 man crew and has been updated through its life with improved targetting systems.
As the Chinooks lifted from Elmsett and departed with their underslung loads, they were joined by an Army Air Corps Apache gunship to escort them to Wattisham.
An Army Air Corps Gazelle was also involved in the demonstration in an observation capacity.
Following the successful delivery of the howitzers and crews, the Chinooks returned to Elmsett.