Prince William’s former helicopter squadron has reformed at RAF Benson.

Number 22 Squadron of the Royal Air Force is an operational testing and evaluation squadron which Prince William served from 2010 to 2013.

After standing down as a Search and Rescue squadron in 2015, 22 Squadron has reformed at RAF Benson as the Operational Evaluation Unit for the Joint Helicopter Command.

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The highly experienced helicopter aircrew at the base near Wallingford, formerly the Rotary Wing Operational Evaluation and Training Unit, will now transfer to 22 Squadron.

The squadron will provide operational testing and evaluation for all the Joint Helicopter Command helicopter types, which includes Puma, Chinook, Merlin, Apache, Wildcat, Bell 212, Dauphin N3 and Gazelle.

They will also be ensuring that front line crews have qualified warfare instructors to help them on operations across the world.

Oxford Mail:

Wing Commander Dave Flynn, the new Commanding Officer of 22 Squadron, said: “No. 22 Squadron has a rich history spanning 105 years and it is an honour to command the squadron as it reforms.

“With a strong record in test and evaluation and rotary wing operations, it is fitting that the squadron now reforms as the Joint Helicopter Command Operational Evaluation Unit as part of the Aviation Warfare Branch.

“We collectively look forward to continuing the squadron’s output in a manner fitting to its distinguished history.”

Oxford Mail:

The 22 Squadron originally formed in 1915 and initially conducted general purpose reconnaissance bombing and photographic work before being re-equipped as a fighter squadron for the remainder of the First World War.

Having disbanded at the end of the conflict, the squadron reformed in 1923 with the aim of testing every new aircraft, civilian and military, produced by the British aviation industry as well as every foreign design to be used by the RAF.

Throughout the Second World War the helicopter squadron conducted mine-laying sorties and torpedo operations, where numerous individuals were commended for their brave actions.

Oxford Mail:

It was not until 1955 that 22 Squadron began its association with helicopters when it was established as a Search and Rescue unit. Flying the Sycamore, Whirlwind, Wessex and Sea King, the Squadron served for 60 years in the SAR role.

The Rotary Wing Operational Evaluation and Training Unit provided significant support to the Search and Rescue crews across the UK with operationally experienced SAR crews as part of the team before the role was civilianised in 2015.

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Group Captain Pete Warmerdam, the Assistant Head of Safety and Assurance at the Joint Helicopter Command, said: “It is fantastic to see the reformation of 22 Squadron within the Joint Helicopter Command.

“Possessing a fine operational history, 22 Squadron will ensure that we continue to conduct world-leading trials and tactics development for our rotary platforms.”