united kingdom Royal Air Force


As a result of the Smuts reports of Jun and Oct 1917 which reviewed the future of air fighting arrangments, the Air Force (Constitution) Act of Nov 1917 created the Royal Air Force by amalgamating the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service on 1 Apr 1918. It was an unpopular decision, but driven through against almost overwhelming opposition, largely by Sir Hugh Trenchard and a small group of ex-Army officers. A period of contraction occurred after World War I, followed by an expansion programme from 1934. Then in May 1939, the units of the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force were returned to Royal Navy control.
The RAF was active in many types of flying but the first steps with rotary wing machines, in the form of a few Cierva autogyros began to be introduced late in the 1930s, largely as a means of calibrating the radar equipment used in the various Chain Home family of systems. These were followed by the first true helicopter in the Hoverfly R-4 in 1945 and the introduction to service of the Sycamore and Dragonfly by the end of 1953. On 1 Sep 1957, the RAF relinquished its Air Observation Post (AOP) Squadrons and Light Liaison Flights to the newly formed Army Air Corps.
Since 1 Oct 1999, when Joint Helicopter Command was formed, the RAF has committed 7, 18, 27, 33 & 230 Squadrons with their Chinook, Puma and (from 2002), 28(AC) Squadron with its Merlin helicopters to this tri-service organisation.
With effect from Nov 2007 78 Sqn was re formed at RAF Benson to fly the Merlin HC3A.  The RAF brought these six Merlins from the Danish Air Force to boster the Support Helicopter Force.
Following an outcome of the 2010 Defence SDSR, 78 Sq (Joint Helicopter Command) passed its Merlins in Sep 2014 to 846 NAS as part of the fleet transfer to the Commando Helicopter Force.

Model Types

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  AW AW109SP GrandNew2015
  B CH-47F Chinook 142014
  B Chinook HC.42012
  EC Puma Mk2 242012
  SNIA AS350 Ecureuil 12010
  Agusta A109E Power22009
  AW EH101 Mk.512620072015
  AW AW109E Power32006
  AW Merlin HC.32220012015
  EC AS350BB Ecureuil261997
  Bell 412 151996
  SNIA AS355 ecureuil 2319932006
  B 414 - H-47D Chinook 491993
  B-V CH-47C Chinook 4219801995
  Westland Sea King 2519782016
  SNIA SA341D Gazelle HT.33019731997
  SNIA SA330 Puma 5519712012
  Westland Wessex HCC.4219691998
  Westland Sioux1519661982
  Westland Wessex7719632003
  Bristol Type 192 Belvedere 2619601969
  Westland Whirlwind13519551981
  Bristol Type 171 Sycamore9319531972
  Westland dragonfly1619531958
  Westland Dragonfly HC.41219521958
  Westland Dragonfly HC.2419501954

Bases and Locations

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Base / HeliportUnits on this Location
   MY Butterworth66 Squadron
   MY Kuching66 Squadron
   CY RAF Akrotiri84 Squadron 1972/   
   RAF Benson28 Squadron 2001/   
33 Squadron 1997/   
230 Squadron 2009/   
606 (Chiltern) Squadron, RAuxAF 1996/   
PCOCU 2015/   
   RAF Northolt32 (The Royal) Squadron 1969/   
   RAF Odiham7 Squadron 1982/   
18 Squadron 1997/   
27 Squadron 1993/   
Joint Helicopter Support Unit (JHSU) 1982/   
   RAF Shawbury60(R) Squadron 1997/   
   RAF Valley202 Squadron 2016/   
SARTU 1962/   
   Thorney Island202 Squadron

Latest News

AH-64E Fire Control Radar Systems

First Deployment of Canadian CH-148 Cyclone

RAF Chinooks Deployed to Mali

Boeing Support for Dutch Apaches and Chinooks

Honeywell Support for Weststar AW139 Fleet

Sikorsky Honors HM Coastguard

Entrol AW139 Simulator Granted ENAC Certificate

QinetiQ Received Fourth and Last H125 for ETPS

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