A Fairey Gannet aircraft is being transported to St Athan today. The post-WW2 plane was designed to fly from aircraft carriers. Maintenance work will be carried out on the aircraft by Hunter Flying Ltd in Barry.
After winning the contract to take over search and rescue helicopter cover from the RAF, Bristow Helicopters have released details of the new fleet that will be deployed in April 2015.
There will be two helicopters at both its Welsh bases -Caernarfon Airport and the MOD site at St Athan near Barry.
Caernarfon's Sikorsky helicopters will cover an area of 250 nautical miles around the base and each carry three stretchers and up to 10 seated casualties. Augusta Westlands will cover 200 nautical miles around St Athan and each have room for two stretchers and six seated casualties.
All the helicopters will have a crew of four and be capable of flying at 145 nautical miles an hour.
Amidst the announcements of cuts to the army, there's one piece of good news for Wales, according to Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns. He was told by the Defence Secretary that that a new RAF support squadron which is being formed is 'likely' to be based at the St. Athan site. Alun Cairns said:
I’m so pleased to hear of the formation of 614 (West Glamorgan) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force. As it’s likely to be based at RAF St Athan, it will be a real and much needed boost to the local community which has such a long history with the Royal Air Force and the MOD.
A further announcement will be made within the next 6 months to confirm the details for the squadron and recruitment of the project team. The aim is for the unit to be fully operational by 2018.
The area has a proud history of RAF activity and many people locally are retired RAF personnel. They will be delighted that the base is returning to its original intentions. These activities are in addition to those of the Special Forces sited within the wire on the base.
St Athan will become the key training area for aerobatic display teams from around the UK. Hunter Flying Ltd oversees the maintenance and operation of the largest private collection of classic aircraft of its kind in the world - many of which are used by display teams at airshows.
Hunter Flying relocated its entire operation to South Wales this year as a planned expansion at Exeter Airport, its former base, meant it had to find new premises. Hunter flying is the first private business to move into St Athan Aerospace Business Park.