RAF Puma and Chinook helicopters flying over London to celebrate 90 years of combined service
RAF Puma and Chinook helicopters flying over London to celebrate 90 years of combined service (Picture: RAF).
RAF

RAF Chinook and Puma helicopters celebrate 90 years of combined service

A formation flight of specially painted Chinook and Puma helicopters took place to celebrate the milestone.

RAF Puma and Chinook helicopters flying over London to celebrate 90 years of combined service
RAF Puma and Chinook helicopters flying over London to celebrate 90 years of combined service (Picture: RAF).

RAF helicopters have celebrated over 90 years of combined service with a joint flight.

A formation flight of specially painted Chinook and Puma helicopters took place to mark the milestone.

The aircraft made a commemorative flight over a number of locations in South England, showing off their bespoke anniversary tail art.

Both uniquely painted aircraft celebrated their individual anniversaries earlier this year, but this journey marked their first formation flight as a pair.

The Puma, from RAF Benson, has completed 50 years of service, while the Chinook, from RAF Odiham, has completed 40 years.

Both the Pumas and Chinooks have operated as part of the Joint Helicopter Command for over 20 years. 

Watch: Puma helicopters mark 50 years RAF service with flypasts.

Entering service in 1971, the Puma has supported combat and humanitarian operations around the world, including in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Domestically, it also supported the London 2021 Olympics and the Scottish Ambulance service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Group Captain Nick Paton, Puma Force Commander, said it was an "honour to command the Puma Force in its 50th anniversary year".

"The Support Helicopter Force has made a vast contribution to operations around the world and in the UK, with the Puma and Chinook delivering over 90 years of combined service," he said.

"All those who have worked for or with the Puma Force over the last five decades should be incredibly proud of the part they have played, and continue to play, in its successes."

Watch: Forty years of the Chinook: What's made it so vital?

The Chinook, a heavy-lift helicopter, entered RAF service in 1980 and has operated in every major conflict since the Falklands War in 1982.

Group Captain Donal McGurk said both the Chinook and Puma have been "vital" to UK defence, "supporting our people at home and overseas".

"I am privileged to command the Chinook element of the Support Helicopter Force and I look forward to seeing the Chinook play an equally important role as part of the next generation RAF," he said.

The helicopters are expected to be returned to their standard operational markings early next year.