RAF Shawbury is a combined storage and training facility located in Shrewsbury. It is the home to Aircraft Maintenance & Storage Unit, Central Air Traffic Control School and the Defence Helicopter Flying School.
The Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) is a tri-service unit made up from 660 Squadron Army Air Corp, 705 Naval Air Squadron and 60(R) Squadron RAF. Operated by FB Heliservices, a civilian contractor, the instructors are a mix of serving military pilots and civilian contractors. DHFS is tasked with providing both basic and advanced rotary wing training for all arms as well as the Harrier Conversion Hover Training Course to give student pilots experience at hovering before moving onto the Harrier OCU with 20(R) Squadron RAF.
660 Squadron and 705 NAS both operate the single engine Squirrel HT1 with 660 Squadron providing the basic flying course and 705 NAS providing the advanced flying course.
60(R) Squadron operates the Griffin HT1, the military version of the Bell 412EP that was derived from the Huey, providing the advanced flying course for multi engine rotary wing.
The photo above shows ZJ271 retuning to the ramp (note the reflection of the yellow line painted on the ground) with a winch attached to the left side of the airframe. It’s unusual to see this particular fit. Usually this function would be carried out by 60(R) Squadron with the multi engine Griffin HT1.
FB Heliservices provides seven Bell 212HP AH1 helicopters for training ground troops at British Army Training Units in both Belize and Brunei. Painted in its very distinctive colours you can’t really miss ZK206.
Bell 212HP AH1 ZK206 – AAC
Whilst the colours used on ZK206 may be distinctive, the ones used on ZK067 are day-glo! This Bell 212HP AH1 is being used to train pilots of the Nigerian Air Force.
Bell 212HP AH1 ZK067 – AAC
As well as training UK Forces and the Nigerian Air Force on the Bell 212HP helicopter FB Heliservices also provides training to the Algerian Air Force on a different airframe. Two Agusta A-109E Power helicopters, registrations ZR324 and ZR325, are being used to provide basic rotary wing training to the Algerians. Once they have completed this it is planned the students will move onto RAF Valley to learn how to perform Search and Rescue (SAR) operations on the AgustaWestland AW-139.
Agusta A-109E Power ZR324 – FB Services
Agusta A-109E Power ZR325 – FB Services
A less visible side of RAF Shawbury is the Aircraft Maintenance and Storage unit, also operated by FB Heliservices. Using four specially de-humidified hangars located on the far side of the airfield a number of airframes are stored. The airframes are stored for two main reasons. 1) The airframe is currently not required or is being rotated to even the fatigue life across the fleet. 2) The aircraft type has been withdrawn from services and is being stored until it either stripped for spares, sold or is scrapped. Varying level of storage is provided with some airframes requiring very little work to have it return to service and others requiring significantly more. If a particular airframe is required HB Heliservices engineers will service and air test the aircraft before it is released to the operating unit.