Helicopter support from the Royal Air Force has been put in place to help with emergency transport and medical evacuations across the Highlands and Islands during the Coronavirus emergency.

Three RAF Puma HC Mk2 craft were deployed to RAF Kinloss on Friday to help provide additional cover to the north of Scotland. The aviation support is in addition to a team of Army medical, logistics, supply and humanitarian relief planners who joined the Scottish Government’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre team in Edinburgh last week.

The RAF Puma can carry up to 16 passengers or up to two tonnes of freight. Their deployment follows last weekend’s use of an RAF A400M transport, working with the Scottish Ambulance Service, to evacuate a critically-ill patient from Shetland to Aberdeen to intensive care.

This activity comes under heading of MACA - Military Aid to the Civilian Authorities – which allows the armed forces to give help and support to authorities like the Police, NHS or local authorities. The government can call on the military to assist at times of need, to share the burden on civil organisations, or to help with urgent work of national importance such as responding to emergencies, maintaining supplies and essential services.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “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 your back.”

Picture shows staff at RAF Kinloss receiving briefing after the landing of the RAF Puma aircraft on Friday (RAF).