Commando Helicopter Force

During the decade that British Forces were deployed in Afghanistan, CHF consistently and fearlessly supported UK and coalition forces in a very challenging environment. Since then, the CHF has faced significant change, with Squadrons moving to RAF Benson and subsequently returning to RNAS Yeovilton, aircraft retiring and new aircraft coming into service.

The first of CHF’s Merlin Mk4s should arrive in spring 2018 and the last will join 10 months later. Coupled with CHF’s Combat Service Support Squadron, which is unique in Joint Helicopter Command and in the Royal Navy in what it can deliver, the future face and capability of CHF will be exciting and formidable. 

The advent of HMS Queen Elizabeth Carriers will see CHF supporting the new carrier to operate rotary wing aircraft ahead of its fixed wing aircraft. CHF will provide the commando force lift and delivery capability to operate from one of the carriers.

CHF has run cold weather survival training and environmental training for aircrews at Bardufoss in Norway for 40 years. This unique training in the depths of Arctic winters qualifies CHF personnel in particular to provide the UK with its only rotary capability on the northern flank. The training is of such a standard and quality that last winter the US Marine Corps sent its own ‘train the trainers’ to learn how the programme is delivered so they in turn can deliver it to their own force.

CHF’s training and operational capability links with the US are not new and are now evolving in different directions, and at a pace. CHF crews carry out desert environmental training on the west coast, and also has aircrews on the US Marine Corps Weapons Tactics Instructor’s Course in Yuma.

From those early days of 848 NAS in Malaya in 1952, the ‘Junglies’ have been actively engaged in most major emergencies, actions and conflicts. Its hard won reputation, judged by those who matter – the troops on the ground – continues to be secure.

The nature and source of future conflict has become more difficult than ever to predict and it is a complex, uncertain and often dangerous world. Unexpected military, political crisis or humanitarian assistance across the globe demands a flexible and rapid response. The CHF, as part of the UK’s high readiness amphibious response force task group, is ideally structured to respond with global reach and speed to any crisis to protect and promote the nation’s security, prosperity and reputation.