Since the amalgamation of the Typhoon Test and Evaluation Sqn (TES) and the Tornado TES back in April, the hectic pace of trials flying and capability delivery has continued unabated.  The merge has seen 41(R) TES double in strength and complexity and the unit is now charged with delivering test and evaluation (T&E) of both Tornado and Typhoon, as an Air Warfare Centre lodger unit at RAF Coningsby.

Bringing 2 aircraft types together through a smooth transition to combined operations is evidence of the hard work and detailed planning that is the bedrock to all T&E activity. The Sqn is embracing the benefits of amalgamation.

Since the merge, the Typhoon Flight has remained predominantly in Lincolnshire, slogging away to develop core capability and continue their trials work in Combat ID, Radar and Defensive Aides Systems.  The exception is the 41(R) TES Tornado Flight who, after first clearing the Gleave Building corridors of all 17(R) TES Typhoon pictures, departed to sunnier climbs for HIGHRIDER 13-01.

Following a minor technical delay and a brief period of g-trouser readjustment (following an extensive P90X regime for Durcs) the 41 hordes were once again on the road, to bring order to the lawlessness of Ridgecrest, California.

The HIGHRIDER 13-01 detachment was focused on continuing to investigate Paveway 4 (PW4) guided bomb performance for use with both Tornado and Typhoon, as well as a number of electronic warfare trials.  Interestingly, in a bid to get into the spirit of the detachment the Tristar Tanker crew jumped the gun for the weapon drops, releasing their undercarriage doors into the green pastures of Nebraska, and leaving a third of the Sqn with some ‘force development’ time in Omaha.

Having (eventually) reunited aircraft and personnel, the Tornado Flight set about flying a comprehensive programme of trials and currency flying, made all the more difficult by US Government ‘Sequestration’ which closed the base, presumably for stock-taking, Guard Room repairs and MOSS Migration, on a fairly regular basis as the US military adopted a 1970s style, money saving, 4-day week.

The PW4 trials activity produced some interesting results (more so if you were stood some distance from the intended target) which will form the basis for Front Line implementation of the weapon in the future.

Notwithstanding the extensive engineering effort required to generate the flying task, combined with the extreme temperatures encountered at NAWS China Lake, there was an opportunity to conduct some AT and Force Development. Many visited the USS Midway, now a floating museum,  in San Diego bay, while the more adventurous participated in the increasingly popular form of human ‘pass-the-pigs’ using jet-skis at Lake Isabella (which unfortunately, has been removed from the social calendar for future detachments following an unforeseeable injury)!

Back in the UK, the Typhoon Flight continued to deliver briefs and take part in flying with the Front Line Sqns, in support to QWIC 4’s preparation for CQWI.  The TES performed admirably, which is fair enough, when you consider they get the best Typhoon kit to operate. Allegedly.

Finally, in June, the TES managed a mixed formation push North to Scotland – to deliver knowledge and training to the Leuchars’  Sqns.  The plan was for 2 Typhoons and 2 Tornados, but sadly not all of the planned assets successfully made the journey – still, it’s the thought that counts. The outlook over the next 6 months sees both Flights once again return to the USA, plus continual, back to back, flight trials from home, delivering new and improved Tornado and Typhoon capability to the Front Line.