XI SQN ARRIVE AT LANGLEY – FINALLY!
XI Sqn pilots reinforced with pilots from across the Typhoon Force, engineers and support staff from RAF Coningsby arrived in the United States in January to begin 2 months of training exercises with their US Air Force colleagues.
Snow and poor weather delayed their departure from RAF Coningsby but better late than never! Training for this detachment has been taking place in the UK for a number of months culminating in an intensive 2 week exercise in December at RAF Coningsby.
Approximately 200 personnel, primarily from XI Squadron, joined forces with the US Air Force 1st Fighter Wing in the first joint training exercise featuring the Typhoon and the F-22 Raptor, at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. The Typhoons were flown from RAF Coningsby to Langley via the Azores and Bermuda with a few aircraft taking a more roundabout route through Canada!
The two units participated in Exercise Western Zephyr, testing the capabilities and tactics of both the Raptor and Typhoon. As recently quoted by Sqn Ldr Andy Chisholm, XI Sqn XO, “The Raptor is a fifth generation low observable aircraft and we need to operate with them to enhance our joint capability. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. You have to practice, and practice makes perfect.”
“The exercise gives us valuable interaction with our allies as well as a great opportunity to integrate with the Typhoon,” said Col Kevin Robbins, 1st Fighter Wing commander. “It’s important for us as coalition partners to have that level of familiarity to make us more tactically proficient should the time ever come to utilize this training.”
The first week of Exercise Western Zephyr culminated with a variety of dissimilar air combat missions against T-38s, F-16s, F-18s and F-22s. The tempo increased during the second week with missions involving a larger number of aircraft from a variety of stations. Following the successful conclusion of Exercise Western Zephyr the Squadron moved on to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in preparation for their part in the prestigious Red Flag exercise. A first for RAF Typhoon and an honour for XI Sqn.