Date: Monday March 30, 2020 at 7:48am
On 18 March the
Defence Secretary announced new measures to enable armed forces personnel to
support public services in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Last updated 27 March 2020
The COVID Support Force is currently supporting
the public services to respond to the outbreak with the following activity.
The Royal Air Force
assisted in bringing home the
passengers of a cruise
ship which had encountered
an outbreak of the
coronavirus. MOD Crown Copyright.
Strengthening public services
support in Scotland
A Puma helicopter from
RAF Benson, seen here readying to fly to Kinloss Barracks in
Moray today. MOD Crown
From 27 March, three RAF Puma helicopters will
be stationed at Kinloss Barracks in Moray, Scotland, as part of the UK
Government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Pumas will work closely
with a Chinook and a Wildcat helicopter based at RAF Leeming in North
A second helicopter facility will
cover the Midlands and Southern England from Aviation Task Force Headquarters
at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. Chinook and Wildcat helicopters normally based at
RAF Odiham and RNAS Yeovilton will support southern areas.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
"The creation of these helicopter hubs is the
next step in our armed forces’ contribution to tackling the coronavirus
outbreak whenever it appears throughout the United Kingdom. Our aircraft are
ready to support emergency services and local communities wherever needed
across the highlands and islands of Scotland, the armed forces have always got
"In addition, our superb military planners
and logisticians are engaging with the governments and health services of
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support their efforts in responding to
public order is the responsibility of the police. The Ministry of Defence is
working with a range of partners across Government, including the National
Police Chiefs Council and the Home Office, to understand how we can best
support the Government’s response to the outbreak. The armed forces stand ready
to assist civilian authorities if required, but there are no current plans for
the military to participate in the enforcement of public order.
On 18 March the
Defence Secretary announced a COVID
Support Force to assist public services with the response to the coronavirus
outbreak. As of 23 March, there are 250 personnel deployed to assist civil
authorities with the response. They are part of 20,000 armed forces personnel
currently stood at readiness to take part.
The armed forces have contributed
dozens of specialist military planners to Local Resilience Forums who are
providing support to public services, local authorities and emergency services
in preparing their response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Our liaison officers at Joint Military Command
Scotland in Stirling are in close contact with the Scottish Government’s
Emergency Co-ordination Centre and we are also providing planning support to
Scotland’s regional and local resilience partnerships.
The military operations team in
Brecon Barracks is in close contact with the Welsh Government’s Emergency
Co-ordination Centre and is providing planning support to Wales’ four regional
Local Resilience Forums.
Supporting the NHS
Members of the Coldstream
Military personnel have been assisting the
Department of Health and Social Care by delivering the equipment that will test
frontline NHS staff for coronavirus as the Government works with industry,
philanthropists and universities to significantly scale up testing. Dozens of
universities, research institutes and companies across Britain are lending
their testing equipment to new hub laboratories that will be set up for the
duration of the crisis. Personnel from all three services have delivered the
equipment to several sites across the country. In addition, a small number of
military personnel have been assisting at one of the testing sites to help get
the facility up and running as quickly as possible
NHS England is
actively preparing for a number of scenarios as the coronavirus outbreak
unfolds and is working with clinicians and a small team of military planners to
support local health services around the country.
Colour Sergeant Nick
Barber is taking part in training to drive oxygen tankers
in support of
the NHS. MOD Crown
Armed forces personnel have begun
training to drive oxygen tankers in support of the NHS. Around 150 members of
personnel from all three services will be trained to drive supplies of oxygen
to NHS facilities if required.
Training began at Air Products
facilities in Port Talbot and Carrington, near Manchester, on Monday 23 March.
By the end of this week, the first cohort of military personnel will have
completed their training to fill the oxygen tankers, drive them safely and
deposit the oxygen at NHS facilities.
personal protective equipment (PPE)
Armed forces personnel delivered boxes of PPE to
St. Thomas Hospital in
London on 24 March. MOD Crown Copyright
currently 179 regular and reservist soldiers stationed at seven NHS
distribution centres across the country as part of the work to distribute PPE.
The number of personnel is likely to be increased to 250 when the programme is
running at full capacity.
Children from the
Schoolchildren from the Falkland
Islands who attend school in the UK have been unable to travel home due to
flight cancellations necessitated by the coronavirus outbreak. These children
will be given priority travel on the South Atlantic Airbridge, a frequent
direct air service owned and operated by the Ministry of Defence. The next
airbridge flight is due to leave the UK later on this week.
The Ministry of Defence is providing assistance
to the Government of Gibraltar. Around 175 personnel are helping with logistics
and planning and the delivery of food and medicine to residents. We are working
closely with the Government of Gibraltar to understand their requirements and
are carefully considering a request for additional support from the Royal
On Sunday 22 March, an RAF A400M transport
aircraft responded to a request to transfer a critically-ill COVID-positive
patient from hospital in the Shetland Islands to an intensive care unit in
Aberdeen. The male patient, in his 60s, was in a deteriorating condition and
needed urgently to be evacuated. Before returning to its home base at RAF Brize
Norton, the aircraft was cleaned.
Royal Air Force Chinooks
will support the work of Joint Helicopter Command. MOD
As part of the military’s
response to the COVID-19 crisis, forces from Joint Helicopter Command are on
standby to provide aviation capability in support to civil authorities. This
will enable access to isolated communities that may not be able to obtain
urgent medical care during the coronavirus crisis.
The Support Helicopter Force,
Army Air Corps and Commando Helicopter Force will provide helicopters and
personnel from all three services to respond as required. Find out more
about Joint Helicopter Command.
So far, the military have
assisted with repatriation flights from China and Japan. This included
providing medically-trained members of service personnel and a military runway
for aircraft to land in the United Kingdom. The repatriation flights allowed
British citizens to return home safely and receive the medical treatment they
An operational liaison and
reconnaissance team of two military personnel has been deployed to Peru to
provide planning assistance to repatriate British nationals stranded there. The
operation is led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
For more information please visit
the Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you
need to do guidance page on gov.uk.
23 March 2020
Last updated 27 March 2020 + show