Military Aviation in 2000


mid-life update to the aircraft, with advanced avionics and weapons system,
is expected to extend the life of the type by twenty years.

3 March
Joint Forces Air Command Headquarters reaches initial operating capability
at High Wycombe.

3 March
Four Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerospatiale Puma helicopters are deployed
to Mozambique for life saving flights in the wake of raging floods.

15 March
The British Army Air Corps takes delivery of the first of 67 WAH-64 Longbow
Apache attack helicopters. The aircraft, built under license by Westland,
include millimetric radar, Rolls-Royce engines and blade folding for ship-board

1 April
A Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Harrier Force is established with headquarters
at RAF Wittering.

A Westland Sea King helicopter from No.78 Squadron carries out a 600 mile
long-range rescue of a sailor from HMS Southampton south of the Falkland
Islands. RFA Grey Rover provides a refuelling facility for the helicopter.

16 May
It is announced that the Royal Air Force will lease four Boeing C17 Globemaster
IIIs and purchase 25 Airbus A400M transports.

The Ministry of Defence confirms that Royal Air Force Eurofighters will
not be armed with cannon. The first forty will be fitted but not supported.

No.28 Squadron crews begin conversion training on the new European Helicopter
Industries Merlin HC3 helicopter at RAF Benson.

The Royal Air Force’s navigator, air electronics officer and air signaller
specialisations are to be merged.

10 September
Royal Air Force Chinook helicopters operating in Sierra Leone, help in
the rescue operation of British soldiers held by the ‘West Side Boys’
in Sierra Leone.

27 October
The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Merlin helicopter fleets are grounded
as a precaution following the ditching of a Royal Navy Merlin in the sea
of Scotland.

14 November
No.24 Squadron C130J carries out the first operational scheduled flight,
when it flies to United States Navy (USN) station Roosevelt Roads in Puerto

Royal Air Force (RAF) student pilots begin training with the Royal Australian
Air Force (RAAF) at Pearce Air Base, in a move to reduce the impact of
the grounding of the Royal Air Force Tucano fleet in September.

The Government announces that up to 72 Royal Air Force aircraft could
be committed to a new European Rapid Reaction Force.

20 November
The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, announces the formation of a European
Union Rapid Reaction Force.

21 December
The Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows display team returns to RAF Scampton.