RAF Benson is located in south-east Oxfordshire, and is currently home to 28 Squadron OCU (Chinook & Puma helicopters), 33 Squadron (Puma helicopters), 230 Squadron (Puma helicopters), 22 Squadron Operational Evaluation Unit (JHC), No 6 Air Experience Flight, and the Oxford University Air Squadron (Grob Tutor).
RAF Benson Satellite View
The National Police Air Service and the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance are also based here as lodger units, and both operate a Eurocopter EC135.
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RAF Benson Scanner Frequencies
Approach - 136.450, 343.525
Zone - 120.900
Director - 136.450, 342.100
PAR - 246.650, 277,675, 136.450, *123.300
Tower - 127.150, 233.950
Ground - 121.800, 343.575
ATIS - 397.575
*= NATO Common Frequency
Aircraft & Squadrons
RAF Benson is a front line support helicopter base working within the Joint Helicopter Command (JHC).
Benson is currently home to 28 Squadron OCU (Chinook & Puma), 33 Squadron (Puma), 230 Squadron (Puma) and the newly formed (May 2020) 22 Squadron (Operational Evaluation Unit) for all the Joint Helicopter Command helicopter types including Chinook, Puma HC2, Merlin HC4, Apache and Wildcat AH1. The Joint Helicopter Support Squadron (JHSS), Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility, Puma Depth Support Hub and Support Helicopter Standards Evaluation Wing are at Benson.
Also based here is the Oxford University Air Squadron and No. 6 Air Experience Flight both operating the Grob Tutor. The National Police Air Service operate an Airbus H135 and the Thames Valley Air Ambulance also operate an Airbus H135 from here. RAF Benson Flying Club operate several aircraft including a Cessna 152, Slingsby T67 Firefly and Piper PA-28.
22 Squadron - Operational Evaluation Unit (JHC)
28 Squadron OCU - Chinook HC.4 & Puma HC.2.
33 Squadron - Puma HC.2.
230 Squadron - Puma HC.2.
Oxford University Air Squadron - Grob Tutor.
No 6 Air Experience Flight - Grob Tutor.
Police & Air Ambulance - Eurocopter EC135.
The Puma helicopter will be retired and replaced by a new medium lift helicopter in the mid-2020s. See the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
RAF Benson was officially opened on Saturday 1st April 1939. It was home to Fairey Battle light bombers which were later replaced with Vickers Wellington medium bombers at the end of 1940.
It also gained considerable fame as the home of photographic reconnaissance for the remainder of the Second World War using Photographic Reconnaissance Spitfires. In 1944, two Mosquito and two Spitfire Squadrons were based here and assigned to the Coastal Command's Photo Reconnaissance assets with the whole of Northern Europe as its operational area. RAF Benson has a Spitfire PR.XI on the main gate to reflect the photo reconnaissance work that was carried out here during the Second World War.
After the War, RAF Benson retained a reconnaissance role using the Avro Lancaster, Spitfire, Mosquito, Gloster Meteor PR.10 and English Electric Canberra PR.3 aircraft.
A Ferry Squadron was based here during 1956 to 1958. In 1962, the Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosys was based here as part of the RAF Transport Command fleet. RAF Benson was also the home to the King's Flight, later the Queen's Flight, for over 40 years, before moving to RAF Northolt in 1995.
In July 2015, 28 Squadron handed over its Merlin Helicopters to the Royal Navy/Commando Helicopter Force. The Commando Helicopter Force operated the Sea King until they received the Merlin helicopters. They were stationed at RAF Benson while they re-equipped with the Merlin and later moved to RNAS Yeovilton.