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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    started a topic Army Air Corps News

    Army Air Corps News

    The Army Historic Aircraft Flight has added its fleet to the UK civil register as it endeavours to return the veteran aircraft of the Corps to the skies.

    Following a year of administrative difficulties, the transfer of these aircraft from the Military Aviation Authority to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) register, under Permits to Fly, is the first stage in re-establishing the Flight under an independent charitable trust 'sponsored' by the Army Air Corps (AAC).

    Major (Retd) George Bacon, who oversees air display activities for the AAC said "This is likely to be called the Historic Army Aircraft Flight and will be operated entirely under CAA regulations. There is a long road to travel here with issues relating to army governance, operations, training and forward financing. Sponsorship will be key, especially towards the cost of maintaining the aircraft."

    The Flight's aircraft are:

    Sud Aviation Alouette II XR379 (G-CICS)
    Auster AOP9 XR244 (G-CICR)
    DHC Beaver AL1 XP820 (G-CICP)
    Westland Scout AH1 XT626 (G-CIBW)
    Agusta-Bell Sioux AH1 XT131 (G-CICN)

    Army Scout

  • Savoia
    commented on 's reply
    More madness by Britain's politicians!

  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    US Approves $3bn Deal to Upgrade Britain's Apache Helicopter Fleet

    The US government has approved a massive deal to modernise Britain’s fleet of Apache attack helicopters with the latest American technology, removing a major hurdle that could have otherwise seen the aircraft upgraded in the UK.

    The US State Department said it had approved a request from the Ministry of Defence for a $3bn deal for the “remanufacture” of 50 Apache WAH-64 Mk I helicopters to turn them into advanced AH-64E Guardian models.

    Also approved was work to install better engines, targeting systems, radar and sensors, along with spare parts and training and support.

    An Army Air Corps Westland WAH-64D Longbow Apache (ZJ220) as seen at RAF Wattisham in July 2015 (Photo: Gary Stedman)

    America’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which works with US allies, said the deal would “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress around the world.”

    The upgrades and refurbishment of Britain’s current helicopters would mean the UK military would have “greater interoperability with US forces”.

    It would also provide the UK with “assets vital to deter and defend against potential threats” which Britain would use “to conduct various missions, including counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations… and become a more capable defensive force”.

    The news will come as a blow to AgustaWestland, whose Yeovil-based staff modified basic Apaches bought from the US in 1995. Under that arrangement the MoD bought Apaches from the US at about £20m each and then upgraded them, more than doubling their cost.

    The announcement comes as the MoD prepares to decide whether to buy off-the-shelf Apaches from Boeing as part of a larger order with other buyers, which would keep the price down, or paying more to have the work done in the UK by AgustaWestland, saving British jobs but coming with a much higher price-tag.

    The MoD is understood to be keen to buy the cheaper US option but doing so could present a political problem for the Government as it would almost certainly mean jobs being lost at AgustaWestland. The Yeovil-based based firm is a major employer in the South West and is lobbying hard to keep the work in this country.

    The approval from the State Department does not mean the work will definitely go to US, and no decision is expected from the UK Government on until early next year.

    If minsters were to opt for the American option, the prime contractors on the deal would be Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, and Florida-based Longbow.

    A spokesman for the MoD said: “We are currently in the assessment phase of the programme which will supply 50 latest generation Apache helicopters to the UK. This phase includes establishing best value-for-money for the taxpayer and will conclude in spring 2016, with a decision on procurement then following.”

    AgustaWestland could not be reached for comment.

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    Duke of Edinburgh Visits REME at RAF Wattisham

    The Duke of Edinburgh has visited a key Army base in Suffolk for a guided tour – and even climbed into the cockpit of its flagship aircraft, the Apache attack helicopter.

    Prince Philip, 93, came to Wattisham Airfield, near Stowmarket, earlier today where he spoke with serving recruits, their families and children from the nearby primary school.

    His Royal Highness, who was not accompanied by the Queen, was shown the vehicles ranging from the Apache – which the base’s 7 Air Assault Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) is currently supporting operations in Afghanistan – to the Watchkeeper drone and Foxhound protected patrol vehicle.

    The Duke, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was told about the rocket-propelled Bloodhound Super Sonic Car project, which aims to reach a record breaking 1,000 mph.

    Models of the vehicle were presented to children from Ringshall Primary School who had taken part in a science project organised by the assault battalion to build balloon-powered cars inspired by Bloodhound.

    Corporal Jordan Bridges, 26, said: “Prince Philip was very interested and said it was great to know that Bloodhound and REME soldiers were helping to make school science lessons more exciting. “This was the first time I’ve worked with children and I really enjoyed the experience, helping and educating the children about engineering. I was surprised by the level of understanding they had of the problems they encountered, for example friction in the wheels and how to reduce it.”

    The British Army is supporting Bloodhound, bringing the technical training and experience of REME soldiers to help drive the project forward.

    The Duke, also, met soldiers’ families at an active session put on by REME’s welfare unit.

    HRH The Duke of Edinburgh being informed about the equipment being used by the REME

    The Duke being briefed on the Apache's weapons systems

    Prince Phillip also met with pupils from Ringshall School, who were involved in the Bloodhound Project​​

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    Lynx Precautionary Landing

    An Army Air Corps Lynx helicopter has made a precautionary landing in a field in Ryedale.

    The aircraft from the 9 Regiment Army Air Corps base at Dishforth, near Ripon, landed north of Fryton, near Hovingham, on 25th September.

    Stranded in a field down a narrow country lane, the flight crew had bring a Land Rover, crane and low loading trailer to recover the helicopter.

    The Army Lynx which landed on a farm in Ryedale North Yorkshire on 25th September (Photo: Robert Wainwright)

    A spokesman for the regiment said: "The helicopter was on a routine night patrol when it experienced a malfunction. The two crew on board decided to make a precautionary landing in a field. "No one was injured, and the aircraft has since been recovered. The crew want to thank the landowner and the local police for their help."

    Farmer and district councillor Robert Wainwright took pictures of the aircraft being towed up the village lane. He said: "The crew said they had a problem on Thursday night when the cabin started filling up with smoke, so they came down in a field north of Fryton.

    "They had to sit with it overnight until Friday, when a great gang of them came to remove the rotors and on Saturday afternoon they came with a Land Rover to tow it up the lane."

    After being towed by Land Rover along a country lane, the Lynx was placed on a low-loader (Photo: Robert Wainwright)

    A crowd of interested villagers gathered to watch the recovery process, including a group of children who had been enjoying a children's party at a home in the hamlet while the Army crew spent an hour and a half slowly pulling the craft up the narrow lane towards the B1257. At the top of the lane, the crew used a crane to lift the craft onto a low loading trailer to take it away.

    Cllr Wainwright added: "The helicopter was then going to be taken to Portsmouth for investigations into the problem."​

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    1st Regiment Army Air Corps Arrives in Somerset

    The first of thousands of soldiers to be brought back from bases in Germany to the West Country have been formally welcomed to their new home.

    The 1st Regt of the Army Air Corps are the first regular army unit to be based in Somerset in many years, after switching from Gutersloh in Germany to RNAS Yeovilton.

    The regiment, who fly Gazelle and Lynx helicopters, are 150-strong and have moved to Yeovilton with their families, joining a smaller contingent of HQ staff from the unit.

    1st Regiment of the Army Air Corps has been officially welcomed to RNAS Yeovilton

    A year ago, 1AAC were on their final mission in Afghanistan, protecting troops on the ground, and given RNAS Yeovilton’s existing Naval helicopter base, the move back from Germany will see Yeovilton become one of the British military’s main sites for choppers.

    Thousands more soldiers will follow the regiment back from Germany after the Government announced the early withdrawal of troops from German bases left over as a legacy of the Cold War.

    Almost 5,000 soldiers are due to move back to a new super garrison on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, with thousands of new homes and barracks built in and around the likes of Bulford, Tidworth and Larkhill.

    But the first to return went further down the A303 to Yeovilton, and have been settling in over the summer, before the formal welcome over the weekend.

    Moving tens of millions of pounds’ worth of kit, helicopters, engineers and crews 548 miles from Germany was a logistical exercise that took almost a year, but the regiment’s commanding officer, Lt Col Paul Tedman, 41, said they have been made to feel very welcome in Somerset.

    His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps) is greeted by the Commanding Officer of 1st Regiment Army Air Corps, Lieutenant Colonel James Anderson, on his arrival at Princess Royal Barracks in Gutersloh during a visit to the Regiment while stationed in Germany

    “Over the last 20 years, we have been a Germany-based regiment which forged close links with the local community,” said the 41-year-old CO, who is originally from Devon.

    “It was with mixed emotions that we left Gutersloh, but the future looks bright. Since we have arrived in beautiful county of Somerset, we have met nothing but kindness and enthusiasm – this event typifies that attitude. My soldiers love the area and are enjoying being home,” he added.

    Over the next few years 1 Regt AAC will grow to become more than 350 strong. It will carry out a vital job in the future British Army as part of the Aviation Reconnaissance Force; gradually switching from flying the Lynx helicopter to operating the new Wildcat Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopter, a specialist intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

    Air Trooper Beth Richards of 1 Regiment AAC who are the first British Army Unit to leave Germany under programme BORONA

    It is a role which will put 1 Regiment AAC on a high-readiness footing, prepared to deploy from Somerset at short notice anywhere around the world in support of British troops and wider defence.

    At the special welcome event, the soldiers paraded at Yeovilton, watched by the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Lady Elizabeth Gass and army chiefs from 43 Wessex Brigade and the Joint Helicopter Force.

    “As Commanding Officer of the Air Station I am delighted to have 1 Regiment Army Air Corps based with us in Yeovilton,” said Commodore Jock Alexander MBE, the man in charge of the base. “They are the only regular army unit in Somerset and I am confident they will become a beacon of army excellence in the county,” he added.

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    Apache AH Mk1 of 673 Squadron Army Air Corps conducting confined area landing exercise:

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    AAC Pilot Auctions Medals

    A British Army helicopter pilot who performed one of the most daring rescues of the Afghanistan war is selling his gallantry medal to raise £100,000.

    Captain Tom O’Malley flew his Apache gunship into a Taliban stronghold with two Royal Marines strapped to the side in an extraordinary bid to save a wounded comrade.

    He flew the helicopter ship at 60mph then hovered just 20ft above a heavily-defended Taliban fort.

    Captain O'Malley received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a daring raid under heavy enemy fire

    Despite machine gun fire, incoming grenades and blinding dust whipped up by his rotor blades, Captain O’Malley landed in the compound.
    The two marines leapt from the helicopter and plucked Royal Marine Lance Corporal Mathew Ford from the fortress, allowing Captain O'Malley to fly him out again with minutes to spare.

    Lance Corporal Ford had been captured after a botched retreat which left him seriously wounded by friendly fire.
    Despite his comrades' selfless rescue, his wounds were too severe and he later died. However, the bravery of his volunteer rescuers was still commended, as it avoided the need for a ground rescue, which could have led to more casualties.
    Captain O'Malley was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Flying Cross for the action, which his superiors said was conducted with a ‘calculated disregard for his own safety... in the face of a lethal and determined enemy’.

    Captain Tom O'Malley, pictured right, in a British Army Apache attack helicopter

    A pilot of a second Apache also received the DFC and the marines involved the Military Cross. Until now the identities of those involved in the mission have not been revealed.

    Captain O’Malley, 47, resigned his commission last year following 27 years army service and is now a civilian flying instructor.
    He has put his medal set up for auction for a pre-sale estimate of £100,000 pounds. His awards also include long service medals, and campaign awards for serving in Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia.

    Steven Bosley, of Bosleys Auctioneers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, said: 'He has decided it is time to sell his medals.
    'He has left the army and has a chance to start a new life and I dare say this money will help with that.'

    Captain O’Malley was sent on his second tour of Afghanistan in November 2006 and flew Apache Attack Helicopters with 656 Squadron Army Air Corps.

    On January 15, 2007, he was tasked with providing air support to around 200 Royal Marines in an assault on the Jugroom Fort in Garmisr, Southern Helmand. In a desperately confusing situation, Lance Corporal Ford was hit by machine gun fire from one of his allies.

    Captain O'Malley's Distinguished Flying Cross, left, is accompanied by a host of long service and campaign medals from his career

    The fellow solider had mistaken the flash of a hand grenade for enemy gunfire, and shot back, wounding Lance Corporal Ford.
    The commandos withdrew but in the confusion left the mortally-wounded L/Cpl Ford in the compound and at risk of falling into enemy hands.

    Another helicopter spotted the marine’s body giving off a heat signal which indicated he was still alive.
    The four Apache helicopters fired at the Taliban to keep them away from the stricken marine while a rescue plan was worked out.
    Captain O’Malley came up with the suggestion of landing in the compound with two marines strapped to the helicopter, the first time such a mission had ever been carried out.

    After touching down inside the fort the two marines disembarked, leaving Capt O’Malley and the Apache exposed to the enemy which bombarded the Apache with fire.

    The above footage shows Captain O'Malley flying the Apache into the compound with marines sitting on each side of the gunship

    Captain O’Malley fired back with his cannon and directed air support cover before the marines returned with Lance Corporal Ford four minutes later.

    It later emerged that the marine received two bullet wounds to the arm and chest from friendly fire and a ricochet shot to the head from a Taliban bullet.

    It had been suggested Captain O’Malley might have faced a Court Martial as the mission had only tentatively been approved by his Commanding Officer.

    But upon their return to base the Royal Marines immediately recommended all the Apache pilots for gallantry medals, which saved their careers.

    Bernard Pass, from Bosleys, said: 'This was the most famous British helicopter action carried out in Afghanistan.

    'The Taliban were desperate to capture an Apache helicopter and its crew. To fly one at 20ft behind enemy lines and land it in the middle of a firefight required the utmost bravery.

    The medals are pictured above on top of Captain O'Malley's flying suit, which he wore for combat

    'But the mission was a great morale booster for the troops because it proved that the Royal Marines never left any of their men behind.'

    As well as Capt O’Malley’s nine medals, his flying suit worn on the day of the mission is also being sold along with photographs of the Apache with the marines sat on the side when it returned to base.

    The auction takes place tomorrow.

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    Defence Helicopter Flying School Back in Army Hands

    Captain Paul Shawcross Royal Navy handed over command of the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) at RAF Shawbury this week to Colonel Julian Facer.

    Colonel Facer was commissioned into the Army Air Corps (AAC) in 1991 and is an experienced Apache Attack Helicopter pilot. His recently commanded 7 Training Regiment (AAC) at Middle Wallop, where he was responsible for Army flying training. Following completion of the Qualified Helicopter Instructor Course at RAF Shawbury, he has assumed command of the Defence Helicopter Flying School.

    Capt Paul Shawcross RN hands over command of the DHFS to Col Julian Facer

    The DHFS provides initial helicopter flying training for aircrew of the three Services and Foreign and Commonwealth countries. The School also provides advanced and multi-engine training for RAF and some RN aircrew and other specialist courses for the three Services.

    Colonel Facer said:” It is a great privilege to be given command of the Defence Helicopter Flying School, a world-class flying training organisation made so by its people. Helicopter flying training is critical to maintaining the capability of the front-line aviation forces across the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force and we are very lucky to be so well supported by the community in Shropshire and beyond. I very much look forward to the next few years here at RAF Shawbury”.

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    New Role for Somerset Reservists

    More than 50 British Army Reservists from Taunton’s B Company 6th Battalion The Rifles (6 RIFLES) - Somerset’s Reserve infantry unit - have formally taken on a new and vital role as Army Air Corps Reservists at a ceremony at Wyvern Barracks, Exeter.

    Now formally re-named 675 (Rifles) Squadron Army Air Corps, the Taunton-based Reservists will be formally paired with 1 Regiment Army Air Corps - currently in the process of moving from Germany and into their new home at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset - and will soon begin re-training for their important new ground support role with the Wildcat helicopter force.

    Over the next few years 675 (Rifles) Squadron will grow to a 130-strong unit split between its current base in Taunton and an Army Reserve Centre in Yeovil.
    "It’s a whole new challenge. New job, new role, new people, new family," said WO2 Kevin Pinnell. The 41-year-old, who lives in a village near Cullompton, knows better than any in 675 Squadron what the future holds for the unit, as he works at Augusta Westland, the Somerset-based company that manufactures the Wildcat helicopter.

    He admits it’s a bit like a busman’s holiday but says he’s very proud to be becoming a part of the Wildcat ground support crew. "I know it to be one of the best aircraft in the World," he said. "I know the work and the effort that’s gone in to producing this phenomenal bit of kit. So I’m really looking forward to being able to see it in action, being able to see what it’s supposed to do and to be a part of that."

    Blue berets at the ready.This challenging and crucial new role for Somerset’s Reserve soldiers is evidence of much bigger changes taking place across the Army following the publication of the Government White Paper: ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020’ last summer.

    This document detailed the future structure of the British Army and the creation of a new, well trained, well-funded, well equipped and fully integrated Reserve Force, which is now known as the Army Reserve. The White Paper also outlined the enhanced future role for aviation in the British Army.

    Somerset’s 675 (Rifles) Squadron is spearheading this transformation as it is one of the first Reserve infantry units to be re-assigned to an aviation role. The unit will also become one of only a handful of Reserve units supporting the British Army’s Reactive Forces.

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    Apache Reaches 50,000 Operational Hours in Afghanistan

    The British Army's Apache attack helicopters, operated by the Army Air Corps, recently achieved 50,000 operational flying hours in Afghanistan representing a third of all UK Army Apache flying.

    Apache helicopters have been conducting operations in Afghanistan since 2006, deploying initially with 16 Air Assault Brigade, shortly after being introduced into service with the British Army. Since then the aircraft have been constantly deployed on Operation Herrick, the UK’s name for operations in Afghanistan, where they provide support to ground forces, tactical strike, reconnaissance, and armed escort to other helicopters.

    Army Air Corps ground crew prepare to refuel an Apache helicopter at Camp Bastion (Photo: Corporal Jamie Peters)

    To maintain Apache’s high tempo of operations, the aircraft are fully supported by air and ground crews from the Army Air Corps (AAC), and technicians from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). All these soldiers perform a vital function, keeping the aircraft serviceable and airborne.

    The current detachment, 664 Squadron AAC, part of 4 Regiment AAC, is commanded by Major Simon Wilsey, who actually flew the 50,000th hour. Major Wilsey said:

    "The operational tempo we have maintained over the last 8 years has been challenging, but the resilience of our soldiers, and especially that of their families supporting them, is outstanding. I am proud and lucky to command such high calibre, professional soldiers and such an amazing capability as the Apache."

    Aircraft technicians from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers service an Apache helicopter in Afghanistan (Photo: Corporal Mark Webster​)

    The Apache will continue to play a key role with 16 Air Assault Brigade once operations in Afghanistan draw to a close and the brigade starts to focus on readiness for contingency operations.

    Army Air Corps ground crew reloading ammunition onto an Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan ​ (Photo: Corporal Jamie Peters​)

    Commander of the Joint Aviation Group, Colonel Jaimie Roylance of the Royal Marines, said:

    "This immaculately versatile machine has, for nearly 8 years, been the most clinically precise and effective attack helicopter when it has needed to be. But, equally, and sometimes at the same time, it has been the most wonderfully effective keeper of the peace, and protector of the vulnerable in its escort and deterrent roles.

    There is a vital role for the Apache now, but I am just as sure that there will be an essential role for this exceptional helicopter, and for the force which flies and maintains her, in the years to come after Afghanistan."

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    A reunion is being organised for all former and current members of 653 Squadron Army Air Corps on Saturday 10 May 2014 at the Ramada Hotel, Oldbury, Birmingham.

    Further information can be obtained from:

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  • Aviafora Newsdesk
    Regimental Headquarters Army Air Corps regrets to inform the wider Army Aviation family of the death of Major (Retd) Graham Sheeley on 14 January 2014 following a period of illness. Maj Sheeley was commissioned into the RAF in 1977 and transferred to the Army Air Corps in 1984 where he served with 4 Regt AAC and later commanded 659 Sqn AAC.

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