The Royal Air Force’s (RAF) helicopter crew are, for the first time, training in the Jordanian desert to prepare for deployment in Afghanistan in August 2010.

Nearly 300 personnel from RAF Benson and RAF Odiham are taking part in Exercise Desert Vortex, which is being held at King Faisal Air Base in Jordan.

RAF Wing Commander John Watson said this was the first bilateral training exercise between the Royal Jordanian Air Force and elements of the UK’s joint helicopter force.

The RAF has deployed six Chinooks from RAF Odiham and three Merlins from RAF Benson, along with 90 aircrew, engineers and support staff from the two stations.

The exercises will provide environmental training in realistic conditions, similar to those faced in real operations.

During the training, the aircrew will mainly focus on how to land in dust clouds and fly at night in very low light conditions.