Greetings from 3(F) Squadron! The last few months has been a very busy time for 3(F) Squadron both at home and abroad even compared to normal Typhoon standards!
Since the last time of writing, as part of the long-standing NATO air policing mission in Europe, four Typhoons from 3(F) Squadron along with pilots from across the Typhoon force have deployed to Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania to provide air policing support to the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Whilst some of 3(F) Squadron were deployed in Lithuania, other members of the Squadron, along with pilots from XI Squadron, deployed to Exercise Anatolian Eagle in Turkey as part of the summer Exercise season.
At home, Squadron life has been equally fast paced. As the Squadron works up to become the high readiness Squadron in October, and as part of the new ‘adaptive phase’, the Squadron has become the first to undertake Exercise Virtual Fury, a synthetic exercise based at the ABTC at RAF Waddington. This exercise gives the Squadron the opportunity to work alongside crews from the E3-D in order to plan and execute missions that are typical of likely contingent operations but difficult to replicate during normal training sorties. Such scenarios include complex rules of engagement and integration with the Navy’s Type 45 destroyer.
The Squadron has also been busy outside of flying. As a way of further air-land integration, Flt Lt ‘Wally’ Wallingford & Flt Lt James Kingswood went down to Exercise Mended Spur on Salisbury Plain as a guest of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. Sharing a historical tie at Lark hill as well as having identical colours of green, yellow and red, the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry were the perfect regiment to hold affiliation with 3(F) Sqn. Exercise Mended Spur was a unique opportunity to undertake a three day mobile regiment field exercise focused on vehicle-based offensive tactics in the Salisbury plains exercise area. Being offered the role of vehicle commander and leading a new group of individuals from a different service in a very alien environment was an amazing chance to test leadership skills outside of the daily comfort zone. Both pilots got the opportunity to be part of a scouting troop with Challenger II tanks but sadly, despite Wally’s requests, they wouldn’t let a Typhoon pilot drive!
The Squadron was also visited by three members of the Japanese Air Self Defence Force in return for a visit to Japan we took part in last summer. The Squadron has a rich history with Japan, having had the first foreign Exchange officer in the 1920s. So, in July, Lieutenant Colonel Jun Hamaya, Captain Keigo Itoh & First Lieutenant Masashi Kosodo from the 201st Tactical Fighter Squadron spent four days experiencing 3(F) Squadron hospitality as well as all getting the chance to fly in a Typhoon. Thanks must go out to Flt Lt Tris Simkins who put the whole visit together!
As we head into August, a big period of change lies ahead for the Squadron. As well as the Boss being replaced by Wg Cdr Chris Moon in October, we are losing our SEngO, Sqn Ldr Hari Raja to the Red Arrows – replaced by Sqn Ldr Kate Macartney. Flt Lt Si Taylor departs to the OCU and Flt Lt Steve Kemp goes to the Rafale exchange in France. Flt Lt ‘Fiddy’ Nilson returns to the Squadron from the QWI course and we are joined by Flt Lt Rich Leask who is soon to complete the OCU. It promises to be a lively Squadron Dining In/Out night in September!