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April 2008 - Mildenhall
on detachment with the 95th RS at Mildenhall is 63-9792. It was
the first RC-135 example to be re-engined with CFM-56s, and is the
first time it has been in the UK since 2003 - one of the more illusive
RJs! It also sports the 'Lets Roll' nose art. Courtesy Matthew
April 2008 - Lossiemouth & Kinloss
from 19 April to 2 May, Exercise 'Joint Warrior' NW08/1 involves
units from all three British military services, predominantly maritime
and air. Its aim is to provide collective training in a multi-threat
environment for UK units and invited NATO and allied units and their
staffs. Previously known as 'Neptune Warrior', it provides joint
collective training in a multi-threat environment for UK, NATO and
Allied units and their staffs, enabling them to operate together
in tactical formations as preparation for employment in a component
of a Joint Combined Task Force.
ships, two submarines and around forty-five aircraft plus a small
number of land units will be involved. To maximise training benefit
for aircrew and ground forces, sorties take place in Scotland and
the north of England, many foreign aircraft (mostly French) operating
out of Lossiemouth and Kinloss. NW08/2 will follow later in the
year, running between 4 - 17 October. Pictures courtesy Bill
April 2008 - Leuchars
an overcast and bleak morning, 56(R) Squadron was preparing for
its final nine-ship formation farewell as a Squadron unit. At 10:00
the nine aircraft took off and disappeared for forty-five minutes
before returning in a diamond nine for two flypasts. After disappearing
into the distance, the aircraft returned in twos to beat up the
airfield at low level, in only the way the 'Firebirds' can.
the last aircraft landed and taxied in for the last time, the Station
Commander met all crew members for a toast of the Squadron's Royal
Air Force career. It had been decided that the pilots and crews
would be amalgamated into an enlarged 43 Squadron to increase the
RAF's efficiency, but 56 will live on as the ASTOR OEU at Waddington.
The OC, Wg Cdr David Hazell, stated "It's a very emotional
day", but he was proud to have spent time with a Squadron with
so much history behind it. Look out for a full report next week.
Courtesy Bob Franklin
April 2008 - Woodvale
F-16s from the 322 Squadron, Dutch Air Force performed a flypast
over Woodvale to celebrating the unit's 65th anniversary of its
founding at Woodvale in 1943 as a RAF squadron. It was initially
167 Squadron but renumbered on 12 June 1943 as 322, flying Spitfire
Vbs. It remained on the type throughout the war, ending up in Wunstorf
where it disbanded in October 1945. The squadron was revived as
a unit in the fledgling Dutch Air Force in 1947. Picture courtesy
April 2008 - Newark
a slight delay due to the recent poor weather work has recently
started on repainting the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23M 'Flogger' 024003607/07,
a former Soviet Bloc jet fighter that is currently on loan with
the Newark Air Museum. A significant amount of surface preparation
has already taken place and the first primer coat applied.
work is being undertaken by a group of local aviation enthusiasts
who approached the museum via its website
and Air-Scene UK. The enthusiasts are painters by trade, working
for a company based in Nottingham. Whilst initially they are working
on the MiG-23 they eventually they hope to move on to the MiG-27
that is also on loan at the museum.
MiG-23 will be painted in the markings of a Polish Air Force squadron
to reflect the museum’s strong Second World War connections with
Poland (the first operational squadrons at RAF Winthorpe in 1941
were 300 & 301 Polish Squadrons; Newark Cemetery has a large
Polish war grave section; and the museum has Polish memorials displayed
in its Exhibition Hall).
repainting team have liaised closely with the museum’s Restoration
Manager to establish the framework for the project, which is working
to similar standards as those employed by the regular volunteer
workforce at the museum. Prior to commencement of work the airframe
was surveyed and full details of the stencil markings were recorded.
The museum trustees are known to be “…very appreciative of the offer
that was made to undertake the work on the MiGs”. Courtesy Howard
Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions
April 2008 - Cottesmore
after successful compass swing tests was Vulcan B2 XH558/G-VLCN,
now in the flight test phase of acquiring its CAA permit to fly.
Arriving on Monday, the two flight tests have shown a couple of
minor snags, most noticeably today when one undercarriage door refused
to close due to a microswitch. This hasn't dented the optimism of
the team who are now focussing their efforts on obtaining the Display
Authorisation before the start of the airshow season. Look out for
a much bigger feature next week...
April 2008 - Mildenhall
current closure of Incirlik AFB for runway maintenance has seen
an increase of activity at RAF Mildenhall, most noticeably with
C-17s. It has also meant a near daily movement of US civil cargo
haulers, namely World, Atlas, Kalitta and Evergreen. These ageing
frames rarely seen away from Prestwick, have added some 'colour'
amongst the grey of the USAF aircraft at Mildenhall. Tuesday 15th
April was no exception, with the sight of this once water bomber,
N470EV of Evergreen, now converted back to being a freighter. Courtesy
April 2008 - Wattisham
rare sight of an Antonov Design Bureau An-124 (UR 82009) freighter
was to be seen at Wattisham Airfield this morning, returning three
Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopters from exercises in the USA.
The aircraft type was seen at Wattisham last year and is the largest
type to ever land at this airfield. Courtesy Dave Eade/DEltafoto
April 2008 - Brize Norton
C-17A Delivered to 99 Squadron
10:05 ZZ175, the first C-17A to be purchased outright by the Ministry
of Defence for the Royal Air Force, landed at Brize Norton following
its delivery flight from the Boeing plant in San Antonio, Texas.
ZZ175 is the 185th C-17 to be delivered from the Boeing production
line in Long Beach, California. If flew for the first time on 4
February 2008 and then spent time at the San Antonio works for post
delivery work, including the fitting of the infra-red security sensors.
first four RAF C-17 aircraft were delivered in 2001 on a seven-year
lease from Boeing but it has since been decided that these aircraft,
which have now flown in excess of 41,000 hours, will be retained
with the leases being 'bought out' later in 2008. The Chief of the
Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, said: “This fifth
Royal Air Force C-17 will increase our ability to rapidly transport
troops and heavy equipment to operations, and significantly enhance
our overall logistics capability. C-17s are robust, capable and
flexible and have proven their worth on UK Operations in both Iraq
and Afghanistan and more widely when we flew them in support of
humanitarian operations following the Tsunami in South East Asia
and the earthquake in Pakistan”.
crew for the delivery flight of ZZ175 from San Antonio to Brize
Norton were Wg Cdr John Gladston - OC 99 Squadron (pilot), Sqn Ldr
Paul Wyatt (co-pilot), Flt Sgt Stephen Lloyd (ALM) and SAC(T) Mathew
Moore (SVC). Wg Cdr Gladston explained that the Globemaster is “Enormously
important” to the RAF. “It is the backbone of the operational airbridge
– we go into both operational locations several times a week,” he
sixth C-17A for the RAF, UK6, will be delivered to 99 Squadron in
the Summer of 2008. Courtesy Roger Cook/Pynelea Photo Bureau
April 2008 - Luton
carrying a VIP was Italian Air force A319 MM62174, from 306 Gruppo,
based at Roma - Ciampino airport in Italy. Picture courtesy Kevin
April 2008 - Mildenhall
at Mildenhall after dark was 'Open Skies' OC-135B 61-2670 from the
55th RW. Departing on the morning of Monday 7th, the OC-135 was
bound for Kubinka Air Base in Russia for the commencement of a 96-hour
'live mission' overflying Russian military facilities. Courtesy
April 2008 - Leeming
end of a week during which the RAF celebrated its 90th Anniversary
also saw the demise of one of its most illustrious squadrons; 25
(or XXV for the more classically inclined) Squadron at RAF Leeming
in North Yorkshire. This was an event which had been long in the
planning, having been promulgated as long ago as 2005 when its then
sister squadron, 'Legs Eleven',
was disbanded. Hence the Squadron decided, in words of its OC Wing
Commander John Prescott, "that the disbandment will not be
a sad occasion, but a celebration of a proud and historic Squadron".
Given the media coverage of the event, at least in Yorkshire and
the North East, there can be no doubt that the aim was achieved.
There was more of a party atmosphere than is usual on these occasions
a good turn out of VIPs in their dress uniforms with almost enough
gold braid to gild one of her Majesty's coaches. Naturally a goodly
share of this adorned the Reviewing Officer, Chief of the Air Staff
ACM Sir Glenn Torpy, but there were other Air Marshalls in attendance
too. More than one could shake a baton at in fact - there is no
doubt that they had come to wave off a very special squadron.
flypast was impressive too for these stringent times; a six-ship
launched from RAF Leuchars comprising aircraft in an assortment
of markings from across the F3 force, including a schizophrenic
one in the markings of both 25 and 111 squadrons, the explanation
being of course that the squadron's aircraft were already being
prepped for their new owners. However, at least two jets remained
in full 25 Squadron markings; the flagship 'XXV' and 'FZ', which
formed an impressive backdrop to the parade. Even the weather caught
the party mood with a Spring sun blazing down on the parade, giving
a glint to medals and the band's instruments.
a mischievous wind tried to blow away some of the empty seats at
the end of the ceremony this was a big improvement on the weather
for either of the previous disbandment parades held at Leeming.
In his speech Sir Glenn was fulsome in his praise of the Squadron,
referring to it having done "a wonderful job of maintaining
the integrity of the UK's airspace" and thanked them for "an
outstanding contribution of ninety-three years loyal and dedicated
service". As the standard was marched off to the strains of
Auld Lang Syne, many had a tear in their eye, especially the local
aircraft enthusiasts who have made regular visits to the viewing
enclosure to watch the flying. Courtesy Mick Britton &
April 2008 - Coningsby
assumes permanent defence role
the week the Royal Air Force celebrated its 90th birthday, Britain's
newest combat aircraft, the Eurofighter Typhoon, took over for the
first time permanent defence of the United Kingdom's southern airspace.
which entered operational RAF service during 2006 with 3(Fighter)
Squadron at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, took on shared Quick Reaction
Alert (Southern) (QRA(S)) cover at the end of June 2007.
duty has been performed since then alternating with the RAF's Tornado
F3s from RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire, and RAF Leuchars, Fife, until
this week, when Typhoon assumed full responsibility. This is part
of the planned replacement by Typhoon of the roles previously carried
out by the RAF's Tornado F3 and Jaguar fleets.
defence of the UK's northern airspace will continue to be provided
by the Tornado F3s of 43(F) and 111(F) Squadrons at RAF Leuchars.
Courtesy Air Command and Damien Burke
April 2008 - Campaign for Battle of Britain hero's statue
any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did." - Lord Tedder,
GCB, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, 1947.
to erect a statue of Battle of Britain hero Sir Keith Park
on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square is underway on the 90th
anniversary of the RAF. Supporters of the campaign include politicians
Boris Johnson MP, Brian Paddick and Tony Benn; historians Dr Stephen
Bungay and Antony Beevor; former senior military officers Field
Marshall Lord Bramall and General Lord Guthrie; and broadcaster
Sir Patrick Moore.
Zealander Sir Keith Park played a crucial role in winning the Battle
of Britain. As Air Vice-Marshal, Park commanded the RAF squadrons
which defended London and the South East of England in 1940. He
then led the defence of Malta in 1942 and reached the rank of Air
the war, Lord Tedder, GCB, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, said
of Park: "If any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did.
I do not believe it is realised how much that one man, with his
leadership, his calm judgement and his skill, did to save, not only
this country, but the world."
the photo call to launch the campaign in Trafalgar Square, former
Battle of Britain pilots joined senior serving RAF officers, a great-great-niece
of Sir Keith Park, politicians and many other supporters of the
campaign from across the country. A full-size replica of a Spitfire
formed the backdrop for the launch.
of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy KCB CBE DSO
ADC BSc (Eng) FRAeS FCGI RAF, said: "The
plan to erect a statue of Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park to commemorate
his contribution to the Royal Air Force is particularly timely in
this the ninetieth year since its formation. A statue situated in
an appropriate location in London would be a fitting memorial to
this World War I fighter ace and highly decorated airman. Sir Keith's
illustrious military career spanned over thirty years during which
he progressed from being an enlisted soldier to Air Chief Marshal.
This very public acknowledgement of in particular Sir Keith's leadership
of Number 11 Group Fighter Command in the defence of South East
England and London is perhaps over due. It is an appropriate tribute
to a man whose courage and resourcefulness were central to victory
during the Battle of Britain and whose accomplishments are in the
finest traditions of the Royal Air Force."
for the New Zealand High Commission said: "The New Zealand
Government recognises the vital contribution made by Sir Keith Park
during World War II in defence of the United Kingdom. This initiative
should contribute to informing people about Sir Keith's life and
campaign for a statue of Sir Keith was initiated by Terry Smith,
a businessman and keen historian. Terry Smith said: "Trafalgar
Square commemorates Nelson, who defended England in her hour of
need. Yet, amazingly, there is no public memorial to Sir Keith Park.
It is hard to imagine that the Fourth Plinth could serve a greater
purpose than commemorating a man who did so much for this country.
Hitler's failure to beat the RAF in 1940 forced him to call off
his plans for invading Britain. Had Park lost, think what our future
might have been."
a memorial would help keep both his memory alive, and also help
educate the young and all visitors to London of the incredible sacrifices
made in that epic battle which raged above London and the South
East in 1940."
campaign is encouraging visitors to its website, www.sirkeithpark.com,
to sign an online petition calling for the memorial. Dr.
Stephen Bungay, historian and author of 'The Most Dangerous Enemy:
A History of the Battle of Britain', said: "Like Wellington,
Park was never defeated in Battle. His record makes him, without
rival, the greatest operational commander in the short history of
statue of Sir Keith is in the process of being commissioned from
the leading New Zealand sculptor, Roderick Burgess.
further information please contact:
McCartney, Campaign Director, Tel. 020 7200 7332, 07970 039767
Davies, Tel. 020 7200 7130
April 2008 - Around the UK!
the RAF celebrated its 90th birthday - the Red Arrows and four Typhoons
overflew central London and a number of RAF airfields, while nine
Typhoons overflew the RAF Museum at Hendon in the early evening.
Pictures courtesy Bob Franklin, Simon Partington, Gary Stedman
& Gary Parsons
April 2008 - Heathrow
to tighten at UK airports?
to implement greater security measures for the City of London, Gatwick
and Heathrow Airports and the skies of southern England to guard
against possible terrorist attacks could be on their way. 'Behind
closed doors' discussions concerning the use of Heathrow Airport
by the RAF have reportedly been taking place - the proposals could
see hangars once used by British Airways' Concordes being modified
and upgraded to house two (or perhaps four) fully-armed Tornado
F3s as part of a London and Southern England QRA detachment plan.
RAF Northolt was a possibility for this proposal, but this option
was ruled out due to the increase in general light aircraft activity
at nearby Denham Airfield, at times unpredictable.
the Typhoon has recently taken over QRA duties at RAF Coningsby,
there have been concerns that in the event of the London area being
threatened the Typhoons may not be able to respond quickly enough
to counter the threat - with surplus Tornado F3 aircraft from RAF
Leeming now being transferred to other F3 units or placed into storage,
the lower-hour airframe aircraft could be considered for the Heathrow
QRA role, initially for a six-month detachment after which the Typhoon
will take over the duties.
hangars at Heathrow are ideally placed for Tornado F3 QRA operations;
the aircraft could taxi straight out to the runway at speed with
no hindrance and with only minimum or no delay to the daily operations
of the airport and commercial airliners either on the ground or
in the air. One main concern would be the reaction of the local
residents and environmental groups, who already strongly voice their
concerns about the current noise pollution levels at Heathrow. Tornado
F3 operations would certainly see these levels increase and this
will outrage many of these people. If the plans are to go ahead,
airport perimeter security would be tightened and there would be
"Zero tolerance" shown to aviation photographers and plane
spotters who are seen around the perimeter fence and in the areas
they currently frequent in pursuit of their hobby. Neither the RAF,
British Airways nor BAA were available for comment on the speculation.
Courtesy Paul Tiller
April 2008 - Coningsby
of Britain Memorial Flight to be deployed to Afghanistan?
is rumoured that full frontline offensive status is to be accorded
to the affectionately known Battle of Britain Memorial flight as
part of a package of measures to bolster the UK's commitment to
NATO forces in Afghanistan and provide a "more cost-effective
in-theatre weapons platform". Some of the finest bombers, fighters
and training aircraft that have ever served in the RAF, will once
more be deployed to a war zone.
be formally redesignated 44(R) Squadron, the squadron is quietly
preparing its work-up for possible deployment later in the year.
It had been hoped that 11 Squadron would deploy with the Typhoon
FGR4, but continuing software issues have delayed its operational
deployment to early 2009.
this morning, Lancaster pilot Captain Damon Ringer (call-sign 'Hells
Bells'), was chomping at the bit at the opportunity. "We will
show these Al Queda people what a good old British bomber can do
to their afternoon tea party!" It would seem a recently found
cache of Second World War 'Tallboy' bombs at nearby Faldingworth
has been deemed suitable for operations, and will be fitted with
GPS-controlled JDAM technology for precision bombing missions. Operating
at medium altitude, the Lancaster will be above small arms fire,
and the gun turrets will be unoccupied to save weight as there is
no air threat in theatre. Spitfires and Hurricanes will be used
in the Close Air Support role, using a mix of traditional and modern
pilot Major Geraldine Fotheringay-Fortesque-Smyth-Pritchard (call-sign
'Jane') was more sanguine, saying that she hoped these sixty-year
old aircraft would serve their roles well, and "Show these
boundahs we really mean business!"
could start as early as July, seriously affecting the later part
of the airshow season, although 11 Squadron has reportedly offered
a nine-ship Typhoon display to fill the gap as it seems they won't
be as busy as they first thought this year. Courtesy Alistair
Maclean & Guy Harvey
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