A Buxton soldier joined his regiment in the Northumberland hills for an impressive display of its fire power.
Gunner Aaron Dranfield, 19, from Heath Grove, was one of around 350 soldiers from 26 Regiment Royal Artillery, known as the “West Midlands Gunners” taking part in Exercise Mansergh Sabre at the Army’s Otterburn Training area.
The former pupil of Buxton Community School is a member of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne based 132 Battery (The Bengal Troop) and has been in the Army since March 2014.
During the major military exercise he honed his skills as an operator of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), nicknamed “the 70km sniper” because it delivers pinpoint accuracy - delivering a 200lb high explosive warhead to its target - with twice the range of other artillery systems used by the British Army.
The training exercise, which is preparing the regiment for potential future operations as part of NATO’s high readiness forces, is a pre-cursor to Exercise Steel Sabre, the artillery focal point of the year for the British Army, due to take place from 25 February to 13 March.
Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Karl Harris RA, said: “The hills of northern England and extreme weather made the challenge that much harder, and the many who completed the challenge expressed delight, pride and not a small amount of relief on finishing the 24 hour exercise, he added.
“I am very proud of every one of the West Midlands Gunners who gave their very best.”