The Royal Air Force (RAF) element of the Joint Helicopter Command received a
substantial boost yesterday, Thursday 24 January 2008, with the formal
stand-up of a second squadron at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, to fly Merlin
battlefield helicopters.

Number 78 Squadron, originally formed in 1916, has joined 28 (Army
Cooperation) Squadron, which has been heavily involved in operations in Iraq
since 2005, to fly a pooled fleet of 28 Merlins following the acquisition of
six additional helicopters from Denmark.

The pool consists of 22 Merlin HC3s, delivered to Benson during 2001 and
2002, plus the helicopters from Denmark, known as Merlin HC3As. The new
helicopters arrived mid 2007 and all are expected to be in service at Benson
later this year once they have been brought up to RAF specifications by UK
manufacturer Agusta/Westland.

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