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Army Air Corps (United Kingdom)
150px
Cap Badge of the Army Air Corps
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Service history
Active 1942–1949
1957 – present
Role Battlefield support and reconnaissance
Size 203 aircraft
Commanders
Commanders HRH The Prince of WalesGeneral The Rt Hon. The Lord Dannatt KCB CBE MC
Insignia
Insignia RAF roundel

The Army Air Corps is a component of the British Army, first formed in 1942. There are eight regiments (7 Regular Army and 1 Territorial Army) of the AAC as well as four Independent Flights and two Independent Squadrons deployed in support of British Army operations across the world. They are located in Britain, Brunei, Canada, and Germany. The AAC provides the offensive air elements of 16th Air Assault Brigade.

History of the AACEdit

The first Army Air CorpsEdit

The British People first took to the sky during the 17th century with the use of observation balloons.[1] In 1911 the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers was the first heavier-than-air British military aviation unit.[2] 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.[3]

Between the wars, the Army used RAF co-operation squadrons,[4] 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[5][6][7] —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 SAS Regiment was added to the Corps.

One of their most successful exploits during the war was Operation Deadstick 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 & Bucks Light Infantry) to act as infantry. The Bridge was taken within ten minutes of the battle commencing and the men there withstood 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 RAF Air Observation Post (AOP) Squadrons, several of which were manned by reserve personnel.

The present Army Air CorpsEdit

Westland apache wah-64d longbow zj206 arp

An Army Air Corps Westland Apache WAH-64D Longbow displays at a UK air show.

In 1957 the Glider Pilot and Parachute Corps was renamed to The Parachute Regiment, while the Glider Pilot Regiment and the Air Observation Squadrons amalgamated into a new unit, the Army Air Corps.[8]

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 Westland Scout and Bell 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 Westland Gazelle.

Basic rotary flying training was carried out on the Bell Sioux in the 1970s, the Westland Gazelle in the 1980s and 1990s and is currently conducted on the Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel.

Fixed-wing types in AAC service have included the Auster AOP.6 and AOP.9 and DHC-2 Beaver AL.1 in the observation and liaison roles. Since 1989, the AAC have operated a number of Britten-Norman Islander and Defender aircraft for surveillance and light transport duties. The corps operated the DHC-1 Chipmunk T.10 in the training role until its replacement by the Slingsby T-67 Firefly in the 1990s. The Slingsby T-67 Firefly was replaced by the Grob Tutor in 2010.

A further boost in the Army Air Corps' capability came in the form of the Westland Apache AH.1 attack helicopter. In 2006, British Apaches deployed to Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force.

Aircraft of the AACEdit

Lynx Hubschrauber IFOR

An Army Air Corps Westland Lynx AH.7 in Bosnia, in 1996

GazelleAH1 Ahlhorn May1983

A Westland Gazelle AH.1 in 1983

ZH002 Britten-Norman Defender AL.2

A Defender surveillance aircraft

StructureEdit

British Army arms and services
Flag of the British Army
Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
Infantry
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Special Air Service
Army Air Corps
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Combat Support Arms
Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Corps of Signals
Intelligence Corps
Combat Services
Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Royal Logistic Corps
Army Medical Services
<span />
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
<span />
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
General Service Corps
Corps of Army Music

RegimentsEdit

Independent unitsEdit

Independent flights
Independent squadrons

Other unitsEdit

Former unitsEdit

The flight's base at Dhekelia has been closed for sometime and the Flight are no longer listed on the AAC Website as an active flight.[17]

The UNFICYP Flight Army Air Corps, originally known as the Force Aviation Flight, became, operational on 27 March 1964.The Flight was originally equipped with Alouette II helicopters. Duties ended 30 September 1994 when the Flight was replaced by a flight from the Argentine Air Force, ending thirty years, six months and four days of service under the UN flag.[18]

FutureEdit

In the future, the current regiments will be consolidated into the following structure:[19]

  • 1 Regiment AAC
  • 3 Regiment AAC
  • 4 Regiment AAC
  • 5 Regiment AAC

1 and 9 Regt AAC will merge under one headquarters (1 Regt AAC) and re-locate to Yeovilton (RNAS Yeovilton) to form a large regiment equipped with the new AgustaWestland AW159 'Wildcat' helicopter not before Oct 15. The Regular component of Army Air Corps capability will consist of: two regular aviation regiments equipped with Apache, one large regular aviation regiment equipped with Wildcat, and one regular manned aerial surveillance regiment.[20]

Former aircraft of the AACEdit

Historic aircraft flightEdit

Auster.aop9.tw511.arp

An Army Air Corps Auster AOP.5 Air Observation Post. One example is maintained by the Army Historic Aircraft Flight

Battle honoursEdit

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. The honours awarded to the AAC are:

Order of precedenceEdit

Preceded by
Special Air Service
British Army Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Royal Army Chaplains' Department

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

Notes
  1. Farrar-Hockley 1664, p. 9.
  2. Farrar-Hockley 1664, p. 17.
  3. Farrar-Hockley 1994, p. 41.
  4. Rawlings 1984, pp. 255-259.
  5. Rawlings 1984, p. 259.
  6. Halley 1988, pp. 444-451.
  7. Jefford 2001, pp. 102-105.
  8. Farrar-Hockley 1994, pp.179, 187-194.
  9. [1]
  10. Islander
  11. [2]
  12. Squirrel
  13. Gazelle
  14. 14.0 14.1 http://www2.army.mod.uk/aac/equipment/lynx.htm Westland Lynx
  15. Attack Helicopter
  16. On 9 September 2004 a British Army Westland Lynx AH9 crashed near the village Kuroslepy in the Czech Republic killing all six on board. The Lynx was operating as part of an Anglo-Czech joint military training exercise code named Flying Rhino (Létající nosorožec) being held in the Czech Republic. (1 Armd Div's symbol is the rhino, and previous 1 Armd Div exercises have been called 'White Rhino'.) The Lynx helicopter had arrived in the Czech Republic on 6 September at Čáslav. On 9 September it was operating a flight from Přerov to Náměšt nad Oslavou Air Base through the valley of river Oslava when the low flying helicopter was caught in high-voltage electric wires and crashed near the village Kuroslepy (near Brno). The wreckage ignited and all six persons on board died (two crew and four passengers). The exercise was initially suspended but later resumed in a limited form.BBC report Details about the crash, photos (in Czech)
  17. http://www2.army.mod.uk/aac/units/flights/index.htm
  18. http://www.unficyp.org/media/Blue%20Beret%20-%20pdf%20files/2011/Aug_Sep_Layout_3.pdf
  19. http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/Army2020_brochure.pdf
  20. http://www.army.mod.uk/news/24264.aspx
Bibliography
  • Farrar-Hockley, General Sir Anthony. The Army in the Air: The History of the Artmy Air Corps. Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., 1994. ISBN 0-7509-0617-0.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Mead, Peter. Soldiers in the Air: The Development of Army Flying. London: Ian Allan Ltd., 1967. OCLC 464211829
  • Parham Major General H.J. & Belfield E.M.G. Unarmed Into Battle: The Story of the Air Observation Post. Warren & son, for the Air O.P. Officers' Association, Winchester, 1956. (Second edition: Chippenham, Wiltshire, UK: Picton Publishing Ltd., 1986. ISBN 978-0-948251-14-6)
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
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External linksEdit


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