Following the recent gradual disbandment of UK military SAR, the RAF Valley based Search & Rescue Training Unit (SARTU), a unit of the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS), will be formally numbered 202 (Reserve) Squadron at a ceremony at RAF Shawbury, the home of the DHFS.
No 202 (Reserve) Squadron will become the maritime and mountains training element of the DHFS, based at RAF Valley in Anglesey and operating the Bell 412, known in the UK military as the Griffin. The squadron will deliver basic maritime and mountain flying skills to Royal Air Force and Royal Navy aircrew and will also deliver a full operational SAR training package in support of 84 Squadron, based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.
Formed on 1st April 1918, 202 Squadron originated as 2 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service in Eastchurch on 17th October 1914 . Working for 50 years as a fixed wing squadron, it took on helicopters in 1964 when it became an SAR unit, operating the Whirlwind (Sikorsky S-55) and Sea King (Sikorsky S-61). Whilst primarily maintaining a UK based presence, in 1982 “C” Flight 202 Squadron was deployed to the Falkland Islands immediately after the conflict and formed 1564 Flight. This Flight and 202 Squadron ceased SAR ops on 31st March 2016.
SARTU has taught mountain and maritime flying skills to RAF helicopter crews destined for SAR duties since its inception in 1962. More recently, all RAF and RN helicopter pilots and crewmen pass through its doors and receive instruction in the same founding principles of mountain and maritime flying in order to enhance their skills as futuresupport helicopter operators.
Squadron Leader Andy McGreevy, Officer Commanding 202 (Reserve) Squadron said: “It means a great deal for all of us on the former SARTU to be allocated such a historic numberplate. Formed over a hundred years ago as No 2 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service and then re-formed on the birthday of the Royal Air Force as 202 Squadron, we can all be proud of it’s joint heritage in both training and operations. This is particularly relevant now, given our role in training RN and RAF crews in the arts of maritime and mountain flying. We have a vital role to play within UK defence, and 202 (Reserve) Squadron has an exciting and challenging future ahead.”
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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