Since its formation as a fully-fledged Chinook squadron, 27 Squadron has provided support to the NATO Stabilisation Force (SFOR) operations in the Balkans, deploying to Divulje Barracks in Split, Croatia. They formed 1310 Flight whilst in theatre and flew many sorties over the deployment with several different ground units throughout Bosnia and Kosovo. The Squadron's commitment came to an end in early 2000. In May 2000, the Squadron's ability to rapidly deploy to a new conflict area in Sierra Leone proved its capability and flexibility to react quickly in a peacekeeping and Non Combatant Evacuation role. Operating from Lungi Airport and later aboard HMS OCEAN, the squadron flew several missions in support of OP PALLISER in difficult jungle terrain.
In 2002, 27 Squadron became an integral part of the UK Force's response to the War on Terrorism when it deployed on Operation JACANA in Afghanistan. The Squadron was based at Bagram airfield and Khowst Forward Operating Base having initially operated aboard HMS Ocean and HMS Illustrious. 27 Squadron Chinooks flew over 1,500 hrs in difficult hot and high altitude conditions, supporting 3 Commando Brigade in their efforts to hunt out weapons of mass destruction and terrorists in mountainous terrain.
More recently the Squadron has been deployed on Operations in Iraq supplying crews to 1310 Flight, the Chinook component of Joint Helicopter Force (Iraq). Squadron personnel regularly deploy to Basrah Air Station in Support of Multi National Division (South East). Daily tasks include troop, freight and passenger moves around theatre, Vehicle Check Point operations, supporting ground operations, under-slung load operations and 'top cover'/show of force sorties. The Flight also operates at Camp Abu Naji-a Forward Operating Base at Al Amarah where crews provide a 24 hour a day, 30 minutes notice to move, Immediate Response Team. The Squadron flies over 50 sorties a month in support of Operation TELIC-the UK 's continued support to rebuilding Iraq after UK/US led forces removed Saddam Hussain from power and ended his long dictatorship in Iraq.
27 Squadron again deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 and actively supported British and Allied forces there until the end of Op HERRICK in November 2014. As 1310 Flight they were initially based at Kandahar airfield (KAF), then Camp Bastion for the majority. With three operational flights rotating through the deployment over the 8 years, they formed part of Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan) and latterly the Joint Aviation Group. The demand for support to ground forces required a huge commitment from the crews in resupplying isolated patrol bases, carrying troops into highly dangerous landing sites on deliberate operations, moving countless thousands of personnel around Helmand Province and beyond. Throughout this time the most valuable impact was delivered by the Immediate Response Team aircraft and the incredibly capable Medical Emergency Response Team. Working together to retrieve casualties hundreds of lives were saved by 27 Squadron crews who, often under fire, took the trauma team to the patient and returned within the Golden Hour.
The Bottom Line
The role for 27 Squadron will change in the coming years. Though an enduring commitment has come to an end, the appetite for Defence to have a positive impact on the global stage, as directed by the Government, has not diminished. 27 Squadron stands ready and willing to carry out contingent operations worldwide.