Peace Keeping and Humanitarian Aid


Peace Keeping

Berlin Airlift 1948-1949
30-Squadron Beverly drops sacks of food

The UN definition of Peacekeeping is helping countries that are torn by conflict create conditions for sustainable peace. UN peacekeepers from many countries monitor and observe peace processes in post-conflict situations and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they have signed.

Humanitarian operations include international relief efforts when speed is essential, such as the airlift of medical supplies to victims of earthquakes or floods. Tactical Communications Wing has often deployed as part of the humanitarian operations when the activation of airfields, navigational aids or communications have been required to support the RAF.


Operation CONSTANT ENDEAVOUR, Rhodesia 1966

Operation CONSTANT ENDEAVOUR, Rhodesia 1966
TSU - Rhodesia 1966
A trade embargo was placed on Rhodesia in 1965 when they made an illegal Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Britain was prepared to grant independence if the black majority population was given a fair share of power, but the Rhodesian government wanted white minority rule in a country with 220,000 white and four million black citizens. From 1966-72, the Tactical Signals Unit, later the Tactical Communications Wing, supported an RAF detachment of three long range maritime reconnaissance Shackleton’s, which was patrolling the Mozambique Channel with the RN, seeking out ‘pirate’ oil tankers breaking the trade embargo.
Rhodesia Herald, 1966

Operation KHANA CASCADE, Nepal 1973

The Nepalese Government  asked the UK Government for assistance in the  delivery a food supply and humanitarian relief  to remote hill areas of Nepal.  The RAF provided C130 airlift capability, with TCW providing Flightwatch and coordination communications. 

Operation KHANA CASCADE, Nepal 1973

Operation AKTROTIRI AIRLIFT, Cyprus 1974

Operation AKTROTIRI AIRLIFT, Cyprus 1974
The National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters staged an uprising in Cyprus in 1974. As tension heightened, holiday­makers were evacuated by the British carrier HMS Hermes. Turkish forces then invaded Northern Cyprus and although British bases were not directly threatened, dependants and tourists were evacuated by air to the UK. The Tactical Communications Wing provided ground-to-air and airhead communications to the RAF and activated Kingsfield airfield in Cyprus as part of contingency plans to reinforce the Island.

Exercise MAYAN SWORD, Belize Garrison Reinforcement 1977

Negotiations between the UK and Guatemala on the status of the British colony Belize broke down in 1977 and Guatemalan forces mobilised on the border. In response, the British garrison was strengthened and a detachment of six Harriers flew to Belize, assisted by Victor K2 tankers. Tactical Communications Wing managed their communications. Although the threatened invasion did not take place, the RAF remained in Belize, strengthened by 3 Puma helicopters. Tactical Communications Wing continued to support the Belize garrison until the 1990’s.
Operation Mayan Sword, Belize - GR3

Operation AGILLA, Rhodesia 1980

TCW Rhodesia Flight watch 1980s
The RAF sent 7 Hercules planes and 6 Puma helicopters in a five-nation ceasefire monitoring force overseeing the disarming of ZANU and ZAPU guerrillas in Rhodesia after the conclusion of a peace agreement. The Tactical Communications Wing were deployed throughout, and even assisted in the elections which saw democracy return to what was now Zimbabwe. The RAF withdrew in 1980 when the UN Force was disbanded.

Operation BUSHEL, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1984

In this relief operation, the RAF airlifted grain to rough airstrips activated by Tactical Air Traffic Control with Tactical Communications Wing support. These were often high above sea level in drought-stricken areas. By the end of the mission a year later, the RAF had delivered 32,158 tons of supplies in 2,152 sorties.
Operation BUSHEL, Ethiopia 1984-85

Operation PROSPEROUS, Namibia 1988

Operation PROSPEROUS, Namibia 1988
After the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola, the UN implemented a plan for free elections. A Tactical Communications Wing team was included to provide communications for the monitoring teams and to provide Flight Watch at the Airhead. The team withdrew after the election was held successfully.

Operations HAVEN and PROVIDE COMFORT, Turkey 1991

RAF Chinooks took part in this airlift of aid to Kurdish refugees sheltering in Turkey. Tactical Communications Wing had detachments in Silopi, Diyarbakir, and Hakkari to provide the ground force with Air Staff Management Aid and ground-to-air communications. Tactical Communications Wing and the detachment operating the VSC 501 satellite link also activated the Incirlik Air Base, in Turkey.
Operation Provide Comfort, Northern Iraq 1991

Operation YARRA, Turkey and Northern Iraq 1991-1992

Operation Yarra, Northern Iraq 1991
To reassure Kurdish refugees sheltering in safe havens in Northern Iraq, Jaguar planes flew regular reconnaissance and intelligence gathering patrols in the northern Iraq airspace. Hercules and Chinooks, operating from bases in Turkey, delivered tons of food, clothing and medical supplies. A second Tactical Communications Wing satellite link VSC 501 detachment was sent to Turkey to provide secure communications for the deployed ‘Rainbow’ force, a task which lasted thirteen years. During the lengthy deployment, the VSC 501 Land rover turned into a permanent fixture. When the time came to move it, the drive shaft and brakes had seized up, so had to be dragged manually to the waiting aircraft.

Operation VIGOUR, Somalia and Kenya 1992

Two Hercules aircraft and four crews took part in these relief flights into Somalia, working closely with the USAF. Due to fierce fighting in Somalia, they were based in Mombasa, Kenya, and flew missions to airports and to several rough fields within Somalia. Tactical Communications Wing deployed with a basic advance party kit and were later joined by a VSC 501 satellite detachment.
Operation VIGOUR airhead, Somalia and Kenya 1992

Operation PURPOSEFUL, Rwanda and Zaire, 1996

Operation PURPOSEFUL Rwanda and Zaire 1996
In November 1996, following a joint service reconnaissance mission, a Canberra from the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit and 3 Hercules transports left for Entebbe in Uganda They conducted high-altitude photographic sorties in support of humanitarian assistance in the ongoing crisis in Rwanda and Zaire.

Operation BARWOOD, Mozambique 2000

The UK contributed to the humanitarian operation in Mzambique where RAF aircraft delivered over 32,000 tons of supplies to the earthquake region, supported by Tactical Communications Wing communicators.
Operation BARWOOD, Mozambique 2000

Operation PALLISER, Sierra Leone 2000

Operation PALLISTER, Sierra-Leon 2000
Chinooks and Hercules transports supported the Army’s spearhead battalion in UN and British operations in Sierra Leone. Joint Helicopter Command also helped rescue 11 members of the British Army’s Royal Irish Regiment and their Sierra Leone Army liaison officer held by the ‘West Side Boys’. On the ground, small detachments from the Tactical Communications Wing were in theatre, to support air transport and JHC.

Operation RANSON, Mombasa 2002

Tactical Communications Wing deployed small detachment providing dial up and radio communications to support Canberra Photographic Reconnaissance aircraft monitoring terrorist attacks and civil unrest.


Operation RANSON, Mombasa 2002

Operation PHILLIS, Ivory Coast 2004

Operation PHILLIS, Ivory Coast 2004

Three RAF Hercules aircraft evacuated 220 people, UK, and nationals of other countries to Accra, Ghana from the volatile and violent situation in the Ivory Coast. They were supported by Tactical Communications Wing teams providing early entry and satellite communications.

The operation completed in only fifty hours, from the departure of planes from the UK to the last aircraft departing from Abidjan.

Letters of Commendation & Recognition

Operational Badges and Challenge Coins

United Nations Medal Ribbons, Year of issue and Locations

Video: RAF Peace Keeping 1987


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