651 Squadron Army air Corps
651 Sqn are an Army Air Corps squadron that is believed to have joined the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing (JSFAW) in 2006. They are known to operate Britten Norman Defender 4S AL Mk1 aircraft which are used for reconnaissance missions.
These twin-engine, fixed wing turboprop aircraft are typically fitted with an array sophisticated surveillance equipment such as:
- low light level television (llltv) camera fitted in a turret mounted under the Defender's nose
- a number of cabin-mounted cameras
- COMINT (COMmunications INTelligence) gear for listening in on radio signals
The aircraft carries infrared jammers and other defensive systems in pods under the wings in order to defend against surface-to-air missiles.
1 Flight AAC have, in the past, flown similar aircraft (BN-2T Islanders) as airborne surveillance platforms during Operation Banner (Northern Ireland).
Defender 4S AL Mk1 Performance
- 3,500lbs of surveillance equipment
- 8 hours endurance
- can patrol up to 150nm of border per flying hour
- day/night all-weather operation
- can operate low-level to 25,000ft
- loiter/patrol speed 60-160kts
- can operate on short, rough airstrips
651 Squadron Role
651 Sqn provides ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance) support to UKSF operations. The squadron have operated in both Iraq and Afghanistan. As reported in the press, based out of Basra and Al Amara, Iraq, 651 Sqn's Defenders monitored movements of insurgents along routes into the capital. It's likely that such operations involved close coordination with UKSF ground units. It's also likely that 651 Sqn supported SAS Task Force Black which operated throughout Iraq.Photo of 651 Sqn AAC Defender 4S AL Mk1 :