It seems a long time ago since XI Squadron deployed to Italy to fly missions over Libya in support of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

I can hardly remember the Station Dining-In Night on March 18th (OC XI’s Dining-Out Night) when the Stn Cdr stood on a particularly wobbly stool and decreed (in a scene similar to that from Top Gun but without the swimming pool and white uniforms) that the festivities were over, the bar was to be shut and all Typhoon pilots were to report for duty at 0900L the next morning. Within 18 hours of arriving in Italy XI Squadron was flying operational missions over Libya and within 3 weeks of the start date, they were flying multi-role Operational missions.

Even the first Operational day with Duzza walking to his aircraft without his helmet is but a haze. It has been a rollercoaster of a ride, an exciting time for all, and an Operational deployment of firsts. XI Squadron has only just returned from Theatre to begin some well earned leave, only to get ready for deploying back to Italy again in mid-September.

On Apr 12, an XI Sqn Typhoon on patrol with a Tornado GR4, dropped two Enhanced Paveway 2 1000lb GPS guided bombs on two Libyan pro-regime main battle tanks and in doing so completed the first ever Typhoon weapons release ‘in anger’. The Sqn continued trail blazing with some other notable Typhoon firsts. These included the first ever Typhoon self-designated laser attack using the LITENING 3 laser designation pod in combat and also the first ever mixed Typhoon/GR4 and Typhoon only air interdiction missions. Countless targets have been struck by Typhoon including numerous types of vehicles and armour, headquarters buildings, and the guard towers of Col Gaddafi’s compound in central Tripoli (and so far they’ve all been successful!).

The Headquarters Building in Gioia Del Colle named ‘Hotel Gioia’ started off as an empty shell housing rotting beds and holes in the walls, only to become a hub of slick operational activity with a rations cupboard the size of Wales, superb planning facilities courtesy of Iestyn’s team, an espresso coffee machine as temperamental as an Alfa and a Medics facility more akin to that in MASH.

Over the 3 months the engineers and many support staff have worked tirelessly to provide virtually 100% serviceability and 24/7 air power over Libya, an achievement that cannot be underestimated. In 3 months XI Squadron pilots, bolstered superbly by pilots from 3(F), 29(R), STANEVAL and 6 Squadron, flew a remarkable 1420 hours which is enough to fly around the world 24 times; we dropped many weapons, flew hundreds of Operational sorties and OC XI still has not been Dined-Out!! The Sqn handed over the Operation to the capable hands of 3(F) during June who undoubtedly will continue the fantastic work of XI Squadron and we wish them all the very best!

Despite Op ELLAMY stealing the limelight, we must not forget to welcome some new faces and say goodbye to some slightly older ones. We have a new junior pilot in Flying Officer Alex ‘Thorney’ Thorne (another fantastically original RAF nickname!) an ab-initio straight from RAF Valley. Our new OC Mission Support Flight is Sqn Ldr Bob Jones who joins us from Linton-on-Ouse where he’s spent his last few months handing out Kleenex. With heavy heart we say goodbye to the Wing Ground Liaison Officer Major Tom Marsden ‘Chief of Trivia, Indian interpreter and Scouse humorist extraordinaire’. He must have done something right because he’s off to Staff College on promotion. Good luck Maj errr…. Lt Col Tom – we wish you all the success for the future and thank you for your tireless processing of the other Execs work! A warm welcome to his replacement Capt Paul Weston who joins us from……the Army! We also have a brand new addition to the XI Sqn extended family in the form of Charlie Adam Cooke, Cookie and Laura’s latest edition – Congratulations! And last but by no means least it’s a fond farewell to (Dr) Flt Lt Jonny ‘the narcoleptic’ Hynes. He’s finally realised that flying jets is a younger man’s game and that it will never give him the sizable bank balance that he craves. Jonny is off to pastures fresh, blowing the cobwebs off his old stethoscope and joining the RAF medical branch as Dr (Flt Lt) Hynes. Good luck Jonny and Lisa and we hope to stay in touch in the future, even if it is to sign off a civvie medical or persuade the other more cynical docs that we are ‘fit to fly’! Thanks Jonny for all your sterling efforts and thank you all our leavers for your hard work and humour.

So as this article goes to press XI Sqn will be regenerating the south east corner of the airfield and reinvigorating front-line Multi-role training, just in time to go back out to Libya in the autumn– if it’s still going on that is! Until next time, remember we’re ‘Ociores acrierosquaquilis’.

Flt Lt j a peterson