RAF Puma helos prepare for deployment to Afghanistan
The United Kingdom is to deploy its newly upgraded Westland/Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC.2 medium transport helicopters to Afghanistan this month, just weeks after initial operating capability (IOC) for the type was declared, as part of Operation 'Toral', the UK's contribution to the NATO 'Resolute Support' training and assistance mission. They will replace the three Chinook helicopters that have been flying in support of the Afghan National Army and Afghan Security Ministries in Kabul since late 2014.
The HC.2 is earmarked to remain in service until 2025, but Gp Capt Paterson said that he could see this being date being pushed back. "You can break the Puma down in four hours, load into the back of a C-17 [transport aircraft], fly it to anywhere in the world, and assemble it again in four hours. That's not something you can do with any other [UK military] helicopter. janes