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Puma - Royal Air Force
 

The SA330 Puma was originally developed by Sud Aviation to meet a requirement of the French Army for a medium-sized all-weather helicopter. The helicopter also had to be capable of operating by day and night as well as in a wide variety of climates. In 1967, the Puma was also selected by the Royal Air Force and given the designation Puma HC1. As a result of this decision, the SA330 was included in a joint production agreement between Aerospatiale and Westland Helicopters of the UK.

The programme covered the development of three helicopter types - the Puma, Gazelle and Lynx. Production of the aircraft was shared between the two countries, the UK making about 20% by value of the airframe, slightly less for the engine, as well as assembling the aircraft procured for the RAF.

The Puma HC1 first entered service in 1971, and the RAF currently has a fleet of 33 aircraft available to the front-line Support Helicopter Force. The aircraft are operated by No 33 Squadron -RAF Benson- and by No 230 Squadron -RAF Aldergrove- in Northern Ireland. No 33 Squadron, which is divided into two flights and the operational conversion flight, offers flexibility in its role in that the aircraft of one of the flights are fitted with desert warfare specialist equipment, while the aircraft of the other flight are fitted with arctic warfare specialist equipment.

The Pumas are used as battlefield helicopters within the Joint Helicopter Command and provide tactical troop and load movement by day or by night. The aircraft can carry 16 fully-equipped troops, or up to two tonnes of freight carried either internally or as an underslung load. The other major role is that of casualty or medical evacuation support, for which up to six stretchers can be fitted.

Each aircraft is equipped with satellite- based GPS equipment and an instrument landing system, enabling the aircraft to be navigated accurately and to be landed at suitably equipped airfields in poor weather conditions. The normal crew of two pilots, or a pilot and a weapons systems officer, plus a crewman, is trained in procedural instrument flying and tactical low flying by day and by night using night-vision goggles. The aircrew and their supporting ground crew are also trained to operate from inhospitable areas in all conditions ranging from desert to arctic environments.

For self-defence, the Puma is being upgraded with a new defensive-aids suite. This suite includes an integrated radar warning receiver, a missile-approach-warning system, an infrared jammer and automatic chaff and flare dispensing equipment. In addition, two cabin-mounted general purpose machine guns can be fitted for use by the crewmen.

Puma HC1 - XW231 - 230 Squadron - Royal Air Force
 

Photos per serial

Puma HC1 - XW198 - 230 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW198  

Puma HC1 - XW199 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW199   Puma HC.1 - XW199 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW199  

Puma HC2 - XW214 - 230 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW214   Puma HC1 - XW214 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW214  

Puma HC1 - XW223 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW223  

Puma HC1 - XW224 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW224  

Puma HC1 - XW229 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW229  

Puma HC1 - XW231 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW231   Puma HC1 - XW231 - 230 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW231   Puma HC1 - XW231 - 230 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW231  

Puma HC1 - XW236 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW236   Puma HC1 - XW236 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW236  

Puma HC1 - XW237 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force XW237  

Puma HC1 - ZA937 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force ZA937  

Puma HC1 - ZA939 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force ZA939   Puma HC1 - ZA939 - 230 Squadron - Royal Air Force ZA939   Puma HC1 - ZA939 - 230 Squadron - Royal Air Force ZA939  

Puma HC1 - ZJ954 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force ZJ954   Puma HC1 - ZJ954 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force ZJ954  

Puma HC2 - ZJ955/P - 230 Squadron - Royal Air Force ZJ955  
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