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Strategic Defence Review

Joint Helicopter Command
- The SDR acknowledged that the battlefield helicopters owned by all three Services are essential assets in the new strategic environment. But we need to maximise their effectiveness across defence as a whole.

- To achieve this, it has been decided to create a new Joint Helicopter Command. It will bring together the Navy's commando helicopters, the Army's attack and light utility helicopters, and the RAF's support helicopters.

- This will be a joint, tri-Service organisation. People will remain part of their current parent Service, including for the purposes of career management.

- At this stage, only outline plans for the Joint Helicopter Command have been agreed. Under these proposals, it will:

  • be commanded by a tri-Service rotational two star commander under the operational command and budgetary control of Headquarters Land Command;
  • cover battlefield helicopters only. RN anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and airborne early warning helicopters, and RN and RAF search and rescue helicopters, are therefore not included;
  • look for best practice across the three Services in order to gain greater efficiencies in training and operating battlefield helicopters.

- A Joint Helicopter Command Study Team has been established to consult widely and to examine, by the autumn, the following detailed issues:

  • the best location for the Command Headquarters. Options are Yeovilton, Netheravon, Wilton and Benson;
  • the structure and size of the Command, and detailed command and control arrangements;
  • linkages between peacetime command and operations;
  • the boundaries of budgetary authority;
  • arrangements for engineering and logistic support;
  • delegations and responsibilities for flight safety, air worthiness, accident investigation, duty of care, performance standards and tasking.

- This is one of the most important initiatives in the SDR. It reinforces the role of our joint battlefield helicopter fleets at the heart of Britain's defence capability.


Last Updated: 29 Oct 01