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Air support for UKSF operations is provided by some highly trained pilots from all branches of the UK military.
RAF Special Forces Flights
RAF Special Forces are the cream of the RAF, tasked with flying UKSF forces to and from battle. Trained to penetrate deep behind enemy lines, RAF Special Forces flights operate both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.
Army Air Corps (AAC)
Army pilots fly battlefield insertion/extraction and surveillance operations for UKSF. They also provide a covert transport facility for the Special Air Service.
7 Squadron RAF, 657 & 651 Squadron AAC are combined into the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing (JSFAW)
Commando Helicopter Force
Top pilots from the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm support Royal Marines, SBS and other UKSF operations.
Other Aviation Support
UKSF, as well as the Paras and Royal Marines may also be supported by any of the many squadrons in the RAF, AAC or Fleet Air Arm. For instance, it is believed that 4 RAF Puma HC1s, operated by No 33 & No 230 Squadrons RAF, supported SAS Task Force Black in Iraq.
It has also been reported that a flight within No 78 Squadron RAF, operating Merlin HC3A helicopters, have been earmarked for special operations.
It is also believed that UK Special Forces are sometimes supported by British-operated MI-8/MI-17 helicopters. These Russian-built helicopters are fitted with western radio gear and countermeasure systems, additional armour and GPMGs mounted in the cabin doors. UKSF use the MI-17s for several reasons: there's a shortage of helicopters capable of operating across the mountains of Afghanistan, the ubiquitous MI-17 airframe is less obviously Western in appearance than say, a Chinook, and spare parts are easy to find in the region.
HOW TO JOIN THE SPECIAL FORCES