British Military Aviation in 1997

The Royal Air Force (RAF) station at Sek Kong in the New Territories,
Hong Kong, closes. The Royal Air Force’s last remaining base in Asia,
Sek Kong had been home to No.28 Squadron (Westland Wessex), the last RAF
flying squadron in the Far East. With the closure of the station, No.28
Squadron transfers to Hong Kong’s civil airport at Kai Tak.

1 April
The Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) and the Royal Auxiliary
Air Force (RAuxAF) are combined into a single reserve force, in line with
the Reserve Forces Act. This is accomplished by disbanding the RAFVR,
after 60 years of service, and integrating members into the RAuxAF.

1 April
The Operations Support Branch is established to bring together the existing
air traffic control, fighter control, intelligence and RAF Regiment specialisations.
Additionally, a fifth specialisation, flight operations, is created within
the Operations Support Branch to provide trained officers to undertake
support duties, previously carried out in operations centres and headquarters
by aircrew officers on ground tours.


The Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) is officially opened at RAF
Shawbury by Air Chief Marshal Sir John Willis, Vice-Chief of the Defence
Staff. The DHFS absorbs the flying training element of No.2 Flying Training
School at Shawbury, which disbanded on 1 April 1997, and the Search and
Rescue Training School at RAF Valley. The Royal Air Force component of
the DHFS is subsequently designated No.60 (Reserve) Squadron.

10 April
Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns is appointed to the post of Chief
of the Air Staff.

Operation Determinant: four Westland/Aerospatiale Pumas from No.33 Squadron
are deployed to Libreville and Brazzaville in the Congo, with support
troops, as a precaution against the possibility that British citizens
might need to be evacuated from the Zairian capital, Kinshasa.


Six Westland Wessex of No.28 Squadron RAF mark the end of the Royal Air
Force’s presence in Hong Kong with a final flight around the city. After
landing, the aircraft are handed over to the Uruguayan Air Force. The
last Royal Air Force personnel leave Hong Kong on 19 June 1997.

31 October
The Royal Air Force accepts the first Panavia Tornado GR4 upgrade from
British Aerospace. The GR4 incorporates improved sensors, computers and
weapon systems.