17(R) Sqn Running the Gauntlet

Intense, dynamic and productive, 2011 was a full-throttle year for 17 Sqn, putting Typhoon through its paces to deliver capability to the Front Line.

The year began, as many others have, with an assortment of radar, weapons and defensive equipment trials as a prelude to Trial HIGHRIDER. However, the focus soon changed with the Typhoon’s deployment to Italy and Op ELLAMY. In the first weeks, the Sqn worked around the clock to deliver key software updates to improve survivability, before testing began on improvements to weapons, communications and targeting systems. Over the course of the Operation, 17 (R) Sqn delivered in excess of 9 formal Trial Reports as well as other essential tactical advice to the Front Line.

Concurrently, a small team made it out to the USA on Trial HIGRIDER to ensure that long term development of the Typhoon continued and best use of this unique resource was made. Testing with the US 422nd TES yet again provided valuable feedback on Typhoon capability in coalition operations.

After ELLAMY, the Sqn had to pick up those trials postponed earlier in the year.

It was business as usual back in the UK, with further development of Typhoon software. Ground and flight testing of the latest radar standard, T2P, has delivered new software to the Tranche 2 fleet, improving Typhoon capability, and directly supporting
northern QRA.

Throughout 2011, the Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA) went through thorough testing on the aircraft by the pilots and staff of 17, in particular Frankie “Awesome!” Buchler who was particularly taken with the capability introduced.  This work culminated in the Front Line squadrons starting their work with the new helmet towards the end of the year, introducing a significant step forward in capability.

17 has also been closely involved in advancing and developing the weapons and aircraft systems for the Typhoon of the future. This has included work on the METEOR missile system, trials involving Passive Infra-Red Airborne Tracking Equipment and future radar and defensive aids systems.  Most of this work has been completed while working closely with industry, a relationship that is vital for us to get what we want in the future.  Certainly, the Squadron has spent many days at Warton, either flying the most recent software loads in the BAE Systems’ test aircraft or in the simulator.  This work has been hugely beneficial.

Spinning Up For 2012

With the Typhoon having accomplished much in 2011, many more questions are being asked of the fleet for 2012.  Moving through January the agenda is already packed full of new challenges for the team
to tackle.

HIGHRIDER in the spring will take 17 and its aircraft out to the US. An abundance of resources, airspace and assistance from the USAF makes HIGHRIDER an invaluable detachment for the Squadron. Several trials including essential work with the Defensive Aids Sub-System, will be carried out during the detachment, as well as full testing of a new software standard in an operational environment that can only be emulated in
the USA.

It is of course, the year of the London Olympics and the TES will have a heavy Olympic involvement. In direct support of the Olympic team the Sqn XO is already in full trials swing, testing the latest in sprinting spikes and aerodynamic lycras. Fleet wide reports (with photos if allowed by the regulator) will follow in the coming months.

2012 has already seen changes in the squadron, with a few of the team moving on; Sqn Ldr Weekes, Flt Lt Ball, Flt Lt Saunders, Flt Lt Steel, Flt Lt Waskett-Booth and Fg Off Walker. All were invaluable members and each have the best wishes for the future from everyone
at 17.

There have also been new additions to the team. 17 Sqn would like to welcome Sqn Ldr Kilvington, Flt Lt Forbes, Lt Humphries, Flt Lt Bartlett and Flt Lt Rennie. Good luck going
into 2012.

Finally congratulations to Sqn Ldr Will Saunders and Flt Lt Nic Saunders on their new arrival, Amelia Kathryn Elizabeth Saunders, who is already being tested on Typhoon system knowledge.

Capability upgrades, ventures overseas and a fresh and budding new team will set 17 (R) Squadron up for another eventful and successful year.

Excellere contende

Strive to excel.