The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force has combined two of their helicopter units by pairing the Chinook and Puma fleets into one operational conversion unit. With this decision, Chinook helicopters will be moved to RAF Benson along with around 150 personnel. More Chinooks will follow to the South Oxfordshire base as the transition proceeds. The combined unit will operate under the mantle of the 28 Squadron.
The Pumas are used on the battlefield within the Joint Helicopter Command and provide tactical movement of troops and cargo during night or day. The Chinook can be used for similar purposes, and is able to function in many different types of harsh weather conditions. It can also be used for self-defense purposes.
Royal Air Force members believe keeping them at the same location will make things more convenient and offer more benefits towards training.
"This is an ideal location for combined Puma and Chinook training to be undertaken because RAF Benson is also home to state of the art simulators. Together, this will provide the best initial training possible for all future Royal Air Force Support Helicopter aircrew,”
said RAF Benson Station Commander group captain Simon Paterson.
According to the RAF, some of the training that will be included in these programs will be: troop movements, re-supply, casualty evacuation, disaster relief, military aid to the civil community and air security. The students will learn how to fly with under-slung loads in different conditions - at low level, in cloudy weather, and during the night. 28 Squadron will be in charge of the training, preparing them to be part of the front lines.
28 Squadron is up for the challenge of training for Chinook as well as Puma, and look to deliver the combined operational conversion unit to provide the Royal Air Force with all its future support helicopter aircrew.
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