The Puma HC1 Helicoter 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, which is based at RAF Benson, and by No 230 Squadron, which is based at 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 Puma Helicopter 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 global positioning system 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 Helicopter is being upgraded with a new defensive-aids suite. This suite includes an integrated radar warning receiver, an AAR47 missile-approachwarning system, an ALQ 144 Infrared jammer and automatic chaff and flare dispensing equipment. In addition, two cabin-mounted 7.62mm general purpose machine guns can be fitted for use by the crewmen.
Puma HC1 Helicopter
• Twin-engined battlefield helicopter operated by Joint Helicopter Command.
• Capable of operating under temperate, desert or arctic conditions.
• Carries troops, freight or casualties in support of the front-line.
• Fitted with modern avionics and self-defence equipment.
• Full operations capability by day or by night.
Powerplant: Two Turbomeca Turmo 3-C4 turbines
Thrust: 1300shp each
Length: 14.08m (46ft 2ins)
Width: 3.00m (9ft 9ins)
Height: 4.54m (14ft 11ins)
Rotor span: 15.09m (49ft 7ins)
Max T/O weight: 7400kg (16,280lbs)
Max speed: 147kts (170mph)
Max altitude: 17,000ft