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british special forces » uksf aviation » 33 / 230 squadron raf
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RAF 33 /230 Squadron - Special Forces Helicopter Support

Puma HC1 helicopters, operated by 33 and 230 Squadrons, RAF, are understood to have supported UK Special Forces, notably 22 SAS (Task Force Black), during Operation Telic, in Iraq, 2003-2009. There were at least 4 Pumas stationed in Baghdad, with one of their roles being the insertion and extraction of British Special Forces. TF Black were also supported by Lynx helicopters operated by 657 Squadron AAC.

Puma HC1 Helicopters

For the special operations role, some Puma HC1s were fitted with a FLIR thermal camera. One RAF Puma (XW223) is fitted with larger sponsons which house additional fuel tanks. (see photos below for examples of RAF Puma HC1s). It is likely that additional/improved communications and countermeasure systems were fitted to special forces Pumas, however the details of such fitments remain classified.

photo : SAS Task Force Black with RAF Pumas in background

Puma HC1 Specifications

Engine 2 x Turbomeca Turmo 111C4 turbines
Width 3.5m
Length 14.06m
Width (rotor diameter) 15m
Height 5.14m
Crew 3 (2 Pilots, 2 Aircrew)
Max Speed 261 kph
Range 780 km
Ceiling 15,748 ft

RAF Pumas, Iraq Losses

While supporting UKSF in Iraq, RAF Pumas have been involved in a number of crashes:

  • 15th April 2007 - 2 RAF Puma HC1s, serial numbers XW211 & XW218, colided with each other while coming in to drop off SAS soldiers. 2 servicemen died in this incident.
  • 20th November 2007 - 1 RAF Puma HC1, serial number ZA938, crash-landed during an SAS operation against insurgents. The crash-landing resulted in the deaths of 2 servicemen.
    more info : inquest into Puma Crash

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