Note: This is the fifth and final part of a multi-part series exploring elite components within the conventional British forces.
To wrap up this series, we awarded honorable mentions to No. 2 Squadron RAF Regiment and Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers (CTSFOs).
The most elite units in the U.K. military would be unable to do their job if not for the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing. The cream of the RAF, they’re tasked with flying United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) forces to and from battle, penetrating deep behind enemy lines while operating fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing is comprised of elements from the following units:
- 7 Squadron RAF (Chinook helicopters)
- 47 Squadron (C-130J Hercules)
- 658 Squadron Army Air Corps (UKSF helicopter support)
No. 2 Squadron RAF Regiment
The gunners of the RAF Regiment are the Royal Air Force’s ground teams. Their primary job is that of force protection. Eight field squadrons provide ground security for RAF operations. This role is not restricted to basic perimeter security; it can include dynamic patrols into neighboring, potentially hostile areas. Other RAF Regiment roles include Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs), CBRN detection and decontamination, combat search and rescue, and special operations support (JTACs).
No. 2 Squadron is an elite, parachute-qualified field squadron capable of dropping in and taking over airfields and securing refueling points. The Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) draws from the ranks of No. 2 Squadron. Their role within the SFSG is to provide TACPs and sniper teams. Based at RAF Honington in Suffolk, their motto is “Nunquam Non Paratus” (never unprepared).
Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers
CTSFOs are a law enforcement unit belonging to SCO19 of the Metropolitan Police Service. Their roles include counterterrorism and hostage rescue. These elite teams provide firearms support to other police units and may serve in both overt and covert applications. CTSFO teams are on standby to respond to a terrorist threat or serious crime incident in London and at the national level.
The unit is trained to storm buildings, planes, buses, trains, and ships—both docked and underway. These operations demand that CTSFOs gain a higher level of training than other law enforcement. CTSFOs serve as ARV officers before going through their own lengthy selection and training process.
To prepare for the Olympic Games, officers are trained to a UKSF standard, including close-quarters combat (CQC) training and fast-roping from helicopters. This enables them to respond more effectively to terrorist incidents. The unit conducts training with both the Special Air Service and Special Boat Service.
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