UK support helicopter base consolidation awaits go-ahead
By Tim Ripley
Military chiefs hope to get the go-ahead later this year to begin the consolidation of the UK's support helicopters onto a single main operating base.
The Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton in Somerset or RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire were identified as possible core sites in the re-organisation of the UK Joint Helicopter Command's (JHC's) bases in the June 2008 UK Defence Estate Development Plan (DEDP).
This is the second attempt by the JHC to reduce the number of its main operating bases from the current eight to less than five early in the next decade. The expense of building new facilities thwarted a similar proposal four years ago.
Dubbed Project Belvedere by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), the rationalisation effort aims to free up funds by closing facilities to improve the operational efficiency of the UK battlefield helicopter forces.
Jane's understands the focus of Project Belvedere is on co-locating the RAF's Boeing Chinook HC.2s and AgustaWestland Merlin HC.3/3As, as well the Royal Navy's Sea King HC.4 support helicopters, on a single base.174 of 566 words
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