On 29 January 1971, the first to Royal Air Force Puma helicopters were delivered into service. To commemorate 50 years of service, Puma HC Mk2 XW224 has been given a unique new paint scheme. Today it flew its maiden flight in its new colours.
The aircraft scheme is similar to that which the first Puma HC Mk 1 aircraft were painted when they were delivered in 1971 but with several notable differences:
- the engine housing boasts the badges of all the squadrons who have flown the Puma, both as a HC Mk 1 and a HC Mk 2;
- the tail fin is emblazoned with the union flag; and,
- the standard Royal Air Force logo on the cabin door has been replaced with the bespoke Puma 50 logo.
The Puma, a medium-lift support helicopter, has flown on combat and humanitarian operations around the world over the last five decades, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mozambique and the Caribbean. The helicopters have also supported Defence in the UK such as providing helicopter lift capability to flood relief efforts and the coronavirus pandemic. In early 2020, the Pumas deployed at short notice to Kinloss Barracks to provide vital transport for personnel and equipment in Scotland and Northern England in the early stages of the pandemic, as well as remaining on standby 24/7 to support any task required in the UK.
XW224 was due to be repainted this year. In honour of the 50th anniversary of the Puma helicopter in service with the Royal Air Force, it was agreed that a unique new paint scheme would be used on the aircraft.