The Puma Force will be conducting essential pre-deployment training in the Manchester, Merseyside, West Lancashire and Newcastle areas from 1-5 July 2019. Based from RAF Woodvale in Merseyside, Puma helicopters from 33 Squadron will be conducting training during the day and night using a variety of authorised helicopter landing sites in the areas.
Operating in an urban environment is a key skill required by the Puma helicopter crews and the training that is provided in the Manchester, Merseyside, West Lancashire and Newcastle areas is invaluable as they are unfamiliar environments for many of the crews. This helps to replicate the unfamiliarity they have with areas in Afghanistan in a safe environment prior to their deployment later in the year.
The Puma Force is currently supporting the ongoing NATO training mission in Afghanistan, with their role dubbed Operation TORAL. They provide life-saving air transport to NATO troops and visiting dignitaries around Kabul. During their pre-deployment training, the Puma crews will work with 4 Para and 4 Lancs Army Reserves to ensure the British Army maintain their familiarity with the Puma helicopter ahead of future operational deployments.
Alongside this role, the Puma Force also hold a National Standby commitment and contingency readiness. This means that serviceable aircraft and experienced crews are on standby to assist in the UK and overseas in any role required, which was recently highlighted when flooding hit Lincolnshire. While conducting their pre-deployment training, the crews will also work with local emergency services to highlight the capabilities that the Puma can bring to their operations and ensure that, should the need ever arise, the civilian emergency services can operate successfully alongside the Puma.