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The Army Air Corps 1957 - Today

The Army Air Corps was formed in 1957 from the amalgamation of the Air Observation Post Squadrons and the Glider Pilot Regiment. That year the Ministry of Defence directed the War Office to take responsibility for the manning and operation of its own light aircraft. An agreement was reached that the Air O.P. Squadrons and Light Liaison Flights would be merged to form a new Corps which would be responsible for unarmed aircraft up to 4000 lbs all-up weight. This Corps became the Army Air Corps on 1 September 1957.

The Army Air Corps continued the work of the Air O.P. and Light Liaison Flights. The RAF, at first, continued to provide servicing personnel until the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers were able to fully assume this function although some personnel from the Royal Navy were also used to fill gaps.

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Besides the Auster the AAC used the Skeeter AOP 12 helicopter to fulfil its battlefield support role. Between 1958 and 1961 seventeen Alouette Mk. IICs were ordered as a stop gap between the Skeeter and its intended successor, the Scout. The Scout project suffered severe delays and escalating costs which delayed the delivery of the first Scout until 1962. Several Alouettes remained in service after this date. From 1964 the AAC was also equipped with the light Sioux AH Mk. 1. In terms of fixed-wing aircraft the Beaver AL Mk. 1 entered Army service as a replacement for the Auster in 1961. The Gazelle AH1 helicopter was introduced in 1974 and the Lynx AH1 helicopter in 1978. The Islander AL Mk 1 was added to the AAC’s fleet in 1989 to be used primarily for aerial reconnaissance and photography.

Since its inception the AAC has provided support for operations in Malaya, Aden, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places. It has also served a variety of other roles including peacekeeping, civilian support and disaster relief.

In recent years the AAC served in Afghanistan using the Apache AH Mk.1 operationally for the first time. This heavily armed aircraft, built by Agusta Westland, is the first British Army helicopter specifically designed for the attack role.

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