DE&S is proud to procure and support the very best equipment possible for the brave men and women in the armed forces.
At this time while colleagues maintain duties across the globe, many in the armed forces are being asked to fight an invisible enemy in COVID-19.
This is an uncertain landscape and DE&S is pleased that some of the platforms it has procured and continues to support are helping the armed forces in that effort.
So far, we have heard news that three RAF Puma helicopters will be stationed at Kinloss Barracks in Moray and will work alongside a Chinook and Wildcat helicopter based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire to meet any requests for assistance from NHS boards and trusts across Scotland and Northern England.
A second helicopter facility will cover the Midlands and Southern England working out of The Aviation Task Force Headquarters at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. Chinook and Wildcat helicopters normally based at RAF Odiham and RNAS Yeovilton respectively will support the Southern areas.
Furthermore, three Royal Navy Merlin helicopters will be used as flying air ambulances across the South West in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mk2 Merlins, based in Culdrose, Cornwall, will also be used to transport medical staff and deliver emergency supplies across an area stretching from the Isles of Scilly up to Bristol.
The helicopters which are usually used to track submarines will provide round-the-clock support to the NHS and South Western Ambulance Service. In preparation, they have been stripped out so they can carry stretchers, passengers and equipment over long distances.
These helicopter facilities have been set up to support medical transports across Scotland and the rest of the UK. The new task force will also be available for general support such as moving equipment and personnel across the wider UK.
Graham Russell, Director Helicopters at DE&S, said: “I am proud of the way in which our people have assisted our front-line forces to deploy our helicopters and specialist capabilities across the country in support of local government and the NHS. The world class equipment we procure and support will help our emergency services save lives in the national response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
This new Kinloss-based support follows last weekend’s use of an RAF A400M transport aircraft, assisting the Scottish Ambulance Service as part of the military’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
A400M is the RAF’s newest and most advanced transport aircraft and can be configured to provide airborne intensive care treatment for up to four stretcher-bound patients, having achieved its full aeromedical evacuation capability for high dependency and highly infectious patients in 2018
The A400M was called on short notice on 22nd March to assist with a COVID-19 recovery task, air-lifting a patient from the Shetlands to Aberdeen hospital. As part of the wider Defence response to the COVID-19 crisis, A400Ms along with forces from the Joint Helicopter Command, are on stand-by to provide aviation capability in support to civil authorities.
A400M Delivery Team Leader, Nick Moore, said: “In addition to its unique versatility as a tactical airlifter with global reach, A400M has a comprehensive aeromedical evacuation capability. While we obviously would hope that this is called upon infrequently in normal times, the whole team is nevertheless extremely proud that the aircraft has been able to assist a member of the public while playing its role in the national effort against COVID-19.”
Find all the latest information and government recommendations about COVID-19 here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus