Military Capabilities

UK commando pilots look to air-to-air refuelling capability

15 June 2018

UK commando pilots are moving to stand up an air-to-air refuelling capability to allow them to rescue downed aircrew and other personnel isolated far behind enemy lines.

A refuelling probe was seen installed on a Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) AgustaWestland Merlin HC4 amphibious assault helicopter during a ceremony at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, Somerset, in May to mark the handing over of the first HC4 helicopter to the Royal Navy (RN). This was the first public indication of the growing interest in air-to-air refuelling in the RN and Royal Marines (RM).

When the United Kingdom originally purchased the Merlin in the HC3 configuration, the Royal Air Force (RAF) took delivery of the aircraft with refuelling probes but never used the capability before the helicopters were handed over to the navy for conversion to HC4s.

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