Ahead of President Obama making his State Visit to the UK the US Marine Corps’ Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) arrive at RAF Mildenhall (a USAF base located in Suffolk). HMX-1 are tasked with providing helicopter transport for the President, Secret Service, Whitehouse staffers and VIPs. They do this using either the VH-3D or VH-60 helicopters to transport the President and the CH-47 Sea Knight to transport cargo, security personnel of VIPs (only the President travels on the VH-3D or VH-60, this rule also extends to heads of state).
The USAF uses its impressive air lift capability to transport the helicopters to the country the President visits. Each helicopter is transported by a USAF C-17 and as I write a total of six C-17s have been used so far. The transport of the helicopters requires some components to be removed and reassembled then air tested after arriving. Of course, this all has to be done ahead of the President’s arrival and Thursday 19th May and Friday 20th May saw the air test of four CH-47s and two VH-3Ds.
USMC HMX-1 VH-3D Serial 159352
HMX-1 VH-3D Serial 159352 was flown as Nighthawk 2 (Nighthawk is the name of the squadron) and would become Marine 1 when POTUS is aboard.
USMC HMX-1 VH-3D Serial 159355
HMX-1 VH-3D Serial 159355 was flown as Nighthawk 1.
USMC HMX-1 CH-47 Serials 157683, 157682 and 153362
HMX-1 CH-46 Serial 157683 was flown as Nighthawk 21 (the 21 matching the number applied to the right side of the airframe).
USAF C-17 Air Lift for US President Obama’s UK State Visit
The two C-17s pictured below were used to transport the VH-3D Sea King helicopter that will be used by President Obama. Each C-17 is capable of carrying a single helicopter and needed components (pictured at the top of the page after being off loaded).
USAF C-17 03-3125 call sign REACH 364 (left hand picture) transported in HMX-1 VH-3D Serial 159352
The CH-47s were also transported in using C-17s.
USAF C-17 07-7187 call sign REACH 513 transported CH-46 157682
In addition to this four US Army CH-47D Chinook helicopters were flown over from Germany to transport Obama’s security detail these were serials 87-0072, 88-0101, 89-0143 and 89-0163.
A USAF C-5M Gallaxy 69-0024 call sign REACH 288 landed at Dublin airport and would have unloaded the limos for POTUS.