The UK Royal Air Force’s Chinook Operational Conversion Flight has joined the Puma Operational Conversion Flight to form the combined Puma and Chinook Operational conversion unit.
Co-located at RAF Benson, the unit will be operated under the mantle of 28 Squadron.
As part of the development, the first Chinook helicopters and around 150 personnel moved to RAF Benson. Chinook Operational Conversion Flight will eventually see six Chinook aircraft.
The combined unit is aimed at providing the best training for the Royal Air Force personnel located in RAF Benson.
RAF Benson Station Commander group captain Simon Paterson said: "This is an ideal location for combined Puma and Chinook training to be undertaken because RAF Benson is also home to state of the art simulators.
"Together, this will provide the best initial training possible for all future Royal Air Force Support Helicopter aircrew."
Under this initiative, 28 Squadron will produce highly trained aircrew for front line Squadrons at RAF Benson (Puma) and RAF Odiham (Chinook), offering helicopter lift capabilities to the UK defence forces.
The capabilities include troop movements, re-supply, casualty evacuation, disaster relief, military aid to the civil community and air security, the RAF stated.
Meanwhile, the Operational Conversion Unit will teach aircrew how to operate their specific helicopter type and also the train them how to fly and operate the Puma and Chinook helicopters.
The training will provide the students with the ability to fly with under-slung loads, at low level, flying in cloud and flying at night.
Image: The Royal Air Force’s Chinook helicopters in formation en-route to RAF Benson. photo: courtesy of Cpl Connor Payne / MOD Crown Copyright 2015.