1942 to present    





Helicopters

656 Squadron
Formed in the Far East on 31 Dec 1942 as an AOP unit, attached to General Slims 14th Army.
A number of Flights administered by 656 Squadron were active in Brunei, Sarawak and Sabah, throughout the Malaya campaign with Indonesia, where the Scout was introduced in 1964.
The Scout was replaced in Hong Kong between Nov and Dec 1975 when 6 Gazelle arrived. The unit maintained a small detachment of Scout in Belize between Nov 1975 and Apr 1980. Six Scouts (to Gweru) and six Gazelles (to Salisbury) were deployed for Peacekeeping operations in Southern Rhodesia from Dec 1979 until Mar 1980 as part of the Commonwealth Monitoring Group. The unit deployed to the South Atlantic in 1982 in support of 5th Infantry Brigade.

By May 1991, the unit operated 6 Lynx and 6 Gazelle. During the transition period from Lynx AH.1 to Lynx AH.7, the unit deployed a flight of 2 Lynx AH.1 aboard HMS Fearless to Sevastopol, from Oct to Dec 1991. The unit moved to Dishforth in Dec 1993 to become part of 9 REGT. It subsumed 672 Sq personnel and became operational with 6 Lynx AH.7 and 6 Gazelle AH.1, mainly in support of 5 Airborne Brigade (part of 3 (UK) Division).
From Jan to Jun 1996, 656 Sq deployed 6x Lynx AH.7 and 4x Gazelle AH.1 to Gornj-Vakuf in Bosnia. In mid Apr 2000, the unit deployed again to the Balkan states; initially to Gornji-Vakuf and from early Jul to Splyt in Croatia until mid Oct.
The unit moved its Apache AH.1 from Dishforth to Wattisham and became part of 4 REGT during 2007, as part of the AAC restructuring to single model Regiments.
Apache was introduced to the unit in 2003 and by end of 2004, its Lynx AH.7 had been replaced. In Sep 2005 656 Sqd deployed to HMS Ocean to establish a Maritime Interim Operational Capability. In Apr 2006 the unit deployed to Kandahar as part of Operation Herrick 4; on 5 May, 656 Sq moved forward to Helmand Province and conducted its first combat operations on 10 May. It was in theatre until Aug 2006, when it was relieved by 664 Sq. It returned from Nov 2006 to Feb 2007.
For a period of 3 weeks in Oct 2010, the unit embarked 3 Apache AH.1 on HMS Ark Royal to prove operations in a maritime environment.
On 26 Apr 2011, 3 Apache AH.1 left Wattisham and embarked HMS Ocean, off Plymouth. During May, whilst working with the Royal Navy to prove the Response Force Task Group concept, the ship was ordered off Libya to participate in Operation Ellamy, the UK contribution to Operation Unified Protector. 4 Apache AH.1 (ZJ179, ZJ188, ZJ207, ZJ233) were involved this iconoclastic mission, conducting combat operations in a heavy helicopter with a narrow undercarriage and high centre of gravity from a heaving deck, in a corrosive environment.


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News of 656 Squadron


Wildcat and Apache in Norway for Exercise Clockwork, 09-Mar-19 : #WinterTraining Royal Navy’ 847 Naval Air Squadron Wildcats and Apaches from AAC 656 Squadron in Norway for annual winter training during arctic NATO exercise Clockwork



Locations


YearsLocationICAO/FAA
2007/    AAC WattishamEGUW
2006/07AF Camp BastionOAZI
2000HR Divulje Barracks
1993/07AAC DishforthEGXD
1985 Murray Heights
1982/93AAC NetheravonEGDN
1982/87 Port StanleySFAL
1979/81ZW Harare InternationalFVHA
1979/81ZW GweruFVTL
1978/82FarnboroughEGLF
1975/80BZ Philip S W Goldson International Airport (PGIA)MZBZ
1969/77HK Sek KongVHSK
1966/69MY Paroi Camp
1965/66MY LabuanWBKL
1962/65MY KluangWMAP
1957/62MY SimpangWMKF


Models

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YearsModels
2003/    WAH-64 Apache
1985/04 Lynx     Lynx AH7
1975/05SA341B Gazelle AH.1
1964/?? Scout     Scout AH.1















Operations


DatesOperation
may-1123-sep-11LY Operation Unified Protector
jan-09may-09AF Operation Herrick
jan-07may-07AF Operation Herrick
05-may-06sep-06AF Operation Herrick
21-apr-8202-aug-82 Operation Corporate
19-dec-7919-mar-80ZW Operation Agila
08-dec-6211-aug-66MY Konfrontasi


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