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Two helicopters to return from service in Iraq.

Summary: The last helicopters deployed in Iraq are returning to the UK.

The last helicopters deployed in Iraq are returning to the UK.

Two Merlin Mk3 aircraft will arrive from operations in Iraq at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth will be present at the event, marking the end of the helicopters' six years' service before they are prepared to be sent to Afghanistan.

A flypast will celebrate the achievements of the Merlin and Puma aircraft, which returned to Benson recently from the Baghdad Helicopter Detachment.

Senior RAF and Joint Helicopter Command officers will greet the crews, as well as their colleagues, friends and families.

The Ministry of Defence insisted last week that the six Merlin helicopters due to be deployed in Afghanistan are "fit for operational use".

The helicopters will allow commanders to move troops or kit around Helmand by air rather than road.

The political row over the provision of helicopters to commanders in Afghanistan erupted after a mounting death toll as troops engaged in Operation Panther's Claw.

The Merlins are due to be deployed to Afghanistan at the end of this year.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Aug 17, 2009
Words:211
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