Army Air Corps (United Kingdom)

Army Air Corps (United Kingdom)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Army Air Corps

caption=Cap Badge of the Army Air Corps
dates=1942–1949, 1957–present
branch=British Army
type=Army aviation branch
role=Battlefield support and reconnaissance
size=8 regiments, 2 independent squadrons, 5 independent flights
garrison=1 Regiment: Gütersloh, Germany
2 Regiment: Middle Wallop
3 Regiment: Wattisham
4 Regiment: Wattisham
5 Regiment: RAF Aldergrove
6 Regiment: TA Reserve
7 Regiment: TA Reserve
9 Regiment: Dishforth
ceremonial_chief=HRH The Prince of Wales
colonel_of_the_regiment= General Sir Francis Richard Dannatt, KCB, CBE, MC
march=Quick: "Recce Flight"
Slow: "Thievish Magpie"
battle_honours=Falkland Islands 1982, Wadi al Batin, Gulf 1991, Al-Basrah, Iraq, 2003
identification_symbol_label= Roundels
aircraft_attack= Apache AH1
aircraft_Airborne Early Warning=
aircraft_recon= Gazelle AH1, Islander AL1
aircraft_patrol= Lynx
aircraft_trainer= Eurocopter Squirrel AS350BB
aircraft_transport= Bell 212HP, Lynx, Agusta A109A, Islander AL1

The Army Air Corps is a component of the British Army, first formed in 1942. There are eight regiments (5 front line, 2 Territorial Army, 1 training) of the AAC as well as five Independent Flights and two Independent Squadrons deployed in support of British Army operations across the world. They are located in Britain, Belize, Brunei, Canada, and Germany. The AAC provides the offensive air elements of 16th Air Assault Brigade.

History of the AAC

The first Army Air Corps

The British Army first took to the sky during the 19th century with the use of observation balloons. In 1911 the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers was the first heavier-than-air British military unit. The following year, the Battalion was expanded into the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corps which saw action throughout most of the First World War until 1 April 1918 when it was merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force.

Between the wars, the Army used RAF co-operation squadrons, though a true army presence did not occur until the Second World War.

At the beginning of the Second World War, Royal Artillery officers, with the assistance of RAF technicians, flew Auster observation aircraft under RAF-owned Air Observation Post (AOP) Squadrons. Twelve such squadrons were raised—three of which belonged to the RCAF — and each performed vital duties in a wide array of missions in many theatres.

Early in the war, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced the establishment of a new branch of army aviation, the Army Air Corps, formed in 1942. The corps initially comprised the Glider Pilot Regiment and the Parachute Battalions (subsequently the Parachute Regiment), and the Air Observation Post Squadrons. In 1944, the re-formed SAS Regiment was added to the Corps.

One of their most successful exploits during the war was the attack on Pegasus Bridge, which occurred on 6 June 1944, prior to the landings on Normandy. Once the three gliders landed, some roughly which incurred casualties, the pilots joined the glider-borne troops (Ox's & Bucks Light Infantry) to act as infantry. The Bridge was taken within ten minutes of the battle commencing and the men there withheld numerous attempts by the Germans to re-capture the location. They were soon reinforced and relieved by soldiers from Lord Lovat's 1 Special Service Brigade, famously led by piper Bill Millin. It was subsequently further reinforced by units of the British 3rd Division.

The AAC was broken up in 1949, with the SAS returning to its independent status, while the Parachute Regiment and Glider Pilot Regiment came under the umbrella of the Glider Pilot and Parachute Corps. The pilots who had once flown the gliders soon had to transfer to flying powered aircraft, becoming part of the Air Observation Post Squadrons.

The present Army Air Corps

In 1957 the Glider Pilot and Parachute Corps was renamed as The Parachute Regiment, with the Glider Pilot Regiment, as well as the Air Observation Squadrons amalgamated into a new unit, the Army Air Corps.

From 1970, nearly every army brigade had at least one Aviation Squadron that usually numbered twelve aircraft. The main rotor aircraft during the 1970s were the Scout and Sioux general purpose helicopters. Their power though was soon bolstered by the introduction of the Westland Lynx helicopter in 1977 as well as the unarmed Gazelle. A further boost in the Army Air Corps' capability came in the form of the Apache Mk 1 attack helicopter. In 2006, British Apaches deployed to Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force. In July 2007 an order was placed for 4 Beechcraft King Air 350s for use in the surveillance role in Afghanistan, the type being much more capable than the Islanders currently used.

Present Day Units


*1 Regiment, Army Air Corps
**652 Squadron (until September 1957 No. 652 Squadron RAF)
**661 Squadron
*2 (Training) Regiment, Army Air Corps
**668 (Training) Squadron
**670 (Training) Squadron
**671 (Training) Squadron
**673 (AH Training) Squadron
**676 (Training) Squadron
*3 Regiment, Army Air Corps
**653 Squadron
**662 Squadron
**663 Squadron
*4 Regiment, Army Air Corps
**654 Squadron
**656 Squadron formerly No. 656 Squadron RAF
**664 Squadron
*5 Regiment, Army Air Corps
**655 (Scottish Horse) Squadron
**665 Squadron
**1 Flight
*6 (Volunteer) Regiment, Army Air Corps
**677 Squadron (Suffolk Yeomanry and Norfolk Yeomanry)
*7 (Volunteer) Regiment, Army Air Corps - to be disbanded by 1 April 2009 [UK Parliament, [ Hansard 7 July 2008] ]
**658 Squadron
**666 Squadron
**3 Flight
**6 Flight
*9 Regiment, Army Air Corps
**659 Squadron
**669 Squadron
**672 Squadron

Independent Squadrons and Flights

Independent Flights:
*7 Flight Army Air Corps (Brunei)
*8 Flight Army Air Corps (Hereford, United Kingdom)
*12 Flight Army Air Corps (Germany)
*16 Flight Army Air Corps (Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Cyprus)
*25 Flight Army Air Corps (Belize)
*29 (BATUS) Flight Army Air Corps (Alberta, Canada)

Independent Squadrons:
*651 Squadron
*657 Squadron

Other units

*660 Squadron (Defence Helicopter Flying School)
*667 Squadron (Development and Trials)
*674 Squadron (Defence Elementary Flying Training School)
*The Band Of The Army Air Corps
*Army Air Corps Historic Aircraft Flight
*The Army Air Corps Blue Eagles Display Team
*The Army Air Corps Parachute Display Team

Current Aircraft of the AAC

* Agusta A109A
* Bell 212HP AH1 [ [ Bell 212] ]
* Beech King Air 350C (on order)
* Britten-Norman Islander AL1 [ [ Islander] ]
* Eurocopter EC-155 Dauphin (on order)
* Eurocopter AS350B Squirrel [ [ Squirrel] ]
* Slingsby T.67M Firefly 160 (at Army Flying Grading)
* Slingsby T.67M Firefly 260 (at DEFTS)
* Westland Gazelle AH1 [ [ Gazelle] ]
* Westland Lynx AH7 Westland Lynx]
* Westland Lynx AH9
* Westland Apache AH1 [ [ Attack Helicopter] ]

Historic Aircraft Flight

* Agusta-Bell Sioux AH1
* Auster AOP9
* de Havilland Canada Chipmunk T10
* de Havilland Canada Beaver AL1
* Sud Alouette AH2
* Westland Scout AH1:See also List of aircraft of the Army Air Corps

Other information

;Battle Honours : The Army Air Corps is classed, in UK military parlance, as a Combat Arm. It therefore carries its own guidon and is awarded battle honours. Thus far, the honours awarded to the AAC are:

* Falkland Islands 1982
* Wadi al Batin
* Gulf 1991
* Al-Basrah
* Iraq 2003
* Normandy Landings
* Merville Battery
* Rhine
* N.W.Europe 1944 - 45
* Sicily 1943
* Pegasus Bridge
* Arnhem 1944
* Southern France
* Landing In Sicily

Order of Precedence

ee also

* List of airfields of the Army Air Corps
* Museum of Army Flying
* List of Army Air Corps aircraft squadrons
* Australian Army Aviation
* United States Army Aviation Branch
* Army aviation
* List of air forces


External links

* [ Army Air Corps ]
* [ School of Army Aviation]
* [ Army Air Corps Historic Aircraft Flight official webpage]
* [ The Blue Eagles - Army Air Corps Helicopter Display Team official webpage]
* [ The Silver Eagles - Army Air Corps Freefall Parachute Display Team official webpage]
* [ The Museum of Army Flying]
* [ The Army Air Corps Association]
* [ Army Air Corps - entry, with history and more web links]

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