Aviation Task Force: Supporting the COVID Support Force

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) established an Aviation Task Force in support of the COVID Support Force

As part of the military’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak, forces from Joint Helicopter Command are on standby to provide aviation capability in support to civil authorities.

The Aviation Task Force in support of the COVID Support Force is simply known in the military world as the ATF CSF.

Pilots from the Aviation Task Force approaching RAF Benson airfield ready to conduct final air tests.

The Task Force is optimised for lift capability — being able to take people and equipment from A to B.

The Royal Navy Merlins, Army Air Corps Wildcats and RAF Pumas and Chinooks will provide essential medical evacuation capabilities as well as the ability to deliver essential equipment and personnel swiftly to where they are needed across the UK.

A Puma helicopter from RAF Benson, seen here readying to fly to Kinloss Barracks in Moray.

“The Aviation Task Force Covid Support Force provides helicopters that can be used by the NHS and other government departments to transfer coronavirus patients, quickly move staff to where they are needed and resupply anywhere in the UK.”

— Group Captain Adam Wardrope, Commander of the Aviation Task Force

Armed Forces together with NHS emergency care colleagues at Thruxton airfield, conducting joint familiarisation training for potential medical evacuations during the fight against Coronavirus.

This task force is being run by Aviation Task Force 3 (ATF-3), one of JHC’s four deployable Aviation Task Force HQ’s held at readiness.

ATF-3 is designed specifically for providing support helicopters to a range of operations around the world.

A Puma helicopter from RAF Benson, seen here readying to fly to Kinloss Barracks in Moray.

The Task Force is established at RAF Benson but draws on aircraft from across Joint Helicopter Command and the Royal Navy.

ATF aircraft include RAF Chinook and Puma, Royal Navy (including the JHC‘s Commando Helicopter Force) Merlin and Army Wildcat.

An RAF Puma (left), RAF Chinook (centre) and Royal Navy Merlin helicopter (right).

“The entire ATF and I are stood by and ready to do whatever is asked and everyone is extremely proud to be doing this for the country. We all know that this will be the biggest and potentially the most demanding mission of our careers. The military is ready to support the country. It’s what we joined to do, and we are very proud and motivated to succeed.”

— Group Captain Adam Wardrope, Commander of the Aviation Task Force

The following Aviation Task Forces have been established:

  • 3 RAF Puma helicopters have been detached to Kinloss Barracks in Moray, Scotland to support requests for assistance from the NHS in Scotland and Northern England
  • 2 British Army Air Corps Wildcat helicopters have been detached to RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire, to support requests in Northern England
  • 3 RAF Chinook helicopters are on standby at RAF Odiham in Hampshire and a further 2 British Army Air Corps Wildcat are on standby at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset to support Southern England
  • 3 Royal Navy Merlin helicopters are also on standby at RNAS Culdrose to support Southern England, the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly.

The ATF are able to provide support across the British Isles utilising established bases in the South of England — RAF Benson, RAF Odiham, RNAS Yeovilton and RNAS Culdrose. With forward operating locations in Northern England and Scotland at RAF Leeming and Kinloss respectively.

Find out where the UK Armed Forces are deployed here:

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Ministry of Defence

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