Puma HC1 completes last sortie at RAF Benson
The Royal Air Force (RAF) has announced that the Puma HC1 has flown its last sortie at RAF Benson. The HC1 fleet is currently undergoing a life extension programme that will see the aircraft upgraded to HC2 configuration.
The first of 24 Puma HC1 aircraft entered the life extension programme in October 2009. The upgrades will improve the aircraft to reflect changing operational environments and extend its life until at least 2025. The first Puma HC2 was returned to the UK in September 2012 and the first fully upgraded aircraft is due to be handed over to the Squadrons during 2013.
The Puma first entered Service with the RAf in 1971 and since then has carried out vital operations across the globe. From providing humanitarian aid for flood victims in Mozambique, to supporting the army in Rhodesia, Northern Ireland, Zaire, the Balkans and Iraq, the Puma has deployed on almost every UK operation since it entered Service.
Operated by 33 and 230 Squadrons, the Puma HC1 has maintained its commitment to providing support to Land Forces through numerous UK and overseas exercises, most recently the rolling commitment to the British Army Training Unit Kenya that provides pre-deployment training for battle groups. The Puma HC1 has also recently provided UK Defence with a low and slow air-to-air intercept capability during the London 2012 Olympics.
Wing Commander Hamish Cormack, the Officer Commanding 230 Squadron, commented: ’The Puma HC1 has given sterling service over four decades, operating in all environments from the extremes of the Norwegian arctic winter to the steamy jungle of Belize. The Puma Force is now looking forward to receiving the Puma HC2 with its significantly enhanced capability, which when married to its rapid deployability suggests that it will be the support helicopter of choice for many operations in the future.’
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