171st Aviation Squadron (Australia)

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171st Aviation Squadron
Holsworthy Barracks NSW Australia 20070223.jpg
The 171st Aviation Squadron's facilities at Holsworthy Barracks in 2007
Active 1968–1973
Country  Australia
Branch Australian Army Emblem.JPG Australian Army
Part of 6th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade
Garrison/HQ Holsworthy Barracks
Aircraft flown
Helicopter S70A Blackhawk

The 171st Aviation Squadron is an Australian Army helicopter squadron equipped with S70A Blackhawk helicopters and provides support to Special Operations Command (Australia). The squadron is currently based at Holsworthy Barracks near Sydney and forms part of the 6th Aviation Regiment.


The 171st Aviation Squadron traces its lineage back to the 171st (Air Cavalry) Flight which was formed on 7 July 1968 at RAAF Amberley.[1] This unit was initially equipped with Sioux helicopters and Cessna 180s and a year after formation was relocated to Holsworthy. It was disbanded in 1973 but re-raised in 1974 at Oakey as a command and liaison squadron, equipped with Kiowa helicopters.[1] The squadron was later re-equipped with UH-1H Iroqois helicopters in 1990, which were acquired from the Royal Australian Air Force; from that time the squadron's role was expanded to include reconnaissance, medevac, resupply and troop transport. It also took on a number of Defence Aid to the Civil Community (DACC) taskings including bushfire and flood relief within Australia and has been deployed overseas on humanitarian assistance missions.[1] The squadron later formed part of the 1st Aviation Regiment where it was equipped with UH-1 Iroquois helicopters and flew in the operational support role.[2]

In late 2004, the squadron "swapped designations" with A Squadron, 5th Aviation Regiment and became an independent unit directly commanded by the 16th Aviation Brigade equipped with the Sikorsky S-70 Blackhawk, providing support to the Special Operations Command.[3][4] In March 2006 the Squadron was involved in Operation Acolyte, the Australian Defence Force's contribution to security during the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne.[5] It was later involved in operations in East Timor as part of Operation Astute.[4] On 29 November 2006, a 171st Aviation Squadron Blackhawk helicopter crashed during Operation Quickstep while attached to HMAS Kanimbla off the coast of Fiji. The helicopter's pilot, Captain Mark Bingley, and Trooper Joshua Porter from the Special Air Service Regiment were killed in the crash.[6] The squadron became part of the newly raised 6th Aviation Regiment, based at Holsworthy Barracks, in 2008.[7] The regiment was formed to provide air mobility and battlefield support to conventional and special forces and operates from Luscombe Army Airfield, Holsworthy.[8]

See also[edit]

A 1st Commando Regiment soldier jumping from a 171st Aviation Squadron Blackhawk helicopter in 2013


  1. ^ a b c Eather 1995, p. 150.
  2. ^ Eather 1995, p. 146.
  3. ^ "5th Aviation Regiment". Department of Defence. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "1st Aviation Regiment". Department of Defence. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Smith & Bergin 2006, p. 6.
  6. ^ "Media Release: Report of the Board of Inquiry into the Crash of Black Hawk 221 Released". Department of Defence. 15 July 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Gubler, Abraham (2008). "Army Aviation's New Decade of Growth". Asia Pacific Defence Reporter 34 (5): pp.16–19. 
  8. ^ "6th Aviation Regiment". Department of Defence. Retrieved 9 December 2013.