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Australian Navy’s crack helicopter unit flies into history

Veterans Issues Minister Peter Tinley has acknowledged the significant military contribution made during the Vietnam War by the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV).

The RANHFV was formed 50 years ago and embedded into the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company to form a combined group known as the Experimental Military Unit, or EMU.

The irony of naming the newly-formed airborne-focused unit after a flightless Australian bird did little to detract from the effectiveness of the EMU. It was the highly successful forerunner for evaluating how Australian and US military forces could collaborate and operate together.

The RANHFV flew the military variant of the ‘Huey’ Iroquios helicopter. Photographs and film footage of Hueys flying low over the jungle and transporting and dropping troops into active combat zones are among the most iconic images of the Vietnam War.

The RANHFV operated continuously in Vietnam from September 1967 to June 1971 and comprised 70 officers, 230 men and 30 Iroquois helicopters, split into three platoons.