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Helicopter Searches

Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) on how many occasions a helicopter from RAF Benson was used to assist a police search for a missing person in each of the last five years; (74199)

(2) if he will identify the helicopter from RAF Benson used to search for Dr. David Kelly on 18 July 2003; whether the helicopter in question was equipped with (a) an infra-red camera and (b) heat-seeking equipment; how long the helicopter was in the air; what areas it covered in its search; and if he will make a statement;

(3) how many (a) military, (b) civilian and (c) other personnel from (i) the United Kingdom, (ii) the United States and (iii) other nations were based at RAF Benson on 17 July 2003.

No RAF helicopters from RAF Benson have been used to assist police searches for missing persons in the last five years.

No RAF helicopters from RAF Benson were used in the search for Dr. David Kelly on 18 July 2003. However, I understand that a Chiltern Air Support Unit police helicopter which is based at RAF Benson was on standby but not used. I am informed that a police helicopter from the Chiltern Air Support Unit based at Luton was used in the search.

Details of the personnel based at RAF Benson on the 17 July 2003 were as follows:

Number of personnel

RAF personnel


Army personnel


Navy personnel


MOD civilian personnel


Non-MOD (contractors)



2 (exchange aircrew from Canada and the United States)