Xi SQN Update

XI Squadron, the RAF’s first (and best) dedicated fighter squadron, has had quite a busy start to the year! On return from the Christmas break, the Squadron had to get right into planning its
much anticipated heavy weapons detachment on Ex MAGIC CARPET.

The exercise saw XI Squadron enjoy a bit more winter sun near the equator whilst practising a lot of core air-to-ground weaponeering skills. Pilots got the opportunity to drop live Paveway II Laser-guided bombs on targets in heavy weapons ranges. A particular highlight on the exercise was live air-to-ground strafe practise, only recently cleared for regular frontline training on the Typhoon and naturally, XI Squadron was first to fire the gun. Alongside these valuable experiences, XI enjoyed working with host nation aircraft to hone their combat skills ranging from large multi-aircraft exercises to 1 vs 1 dogfights.

As always, XI Squadron have a huge appreciation for the work from all of those that supported our flying whilst away. The engineers put in an impressive effort to keep 8 jets serviceable throughout the exercise and their skills were particularly appreciated when the pilots required a helping hand in getting out of their aircraft at the end of their sorties! After a hugely successful two weeks, flying 3 waves a day in 30 degree heat (in January!),  XI Squadron let their hair down in the local Hilton Hotel for a dining in night where the empty bullet cases were put to good use. Boss, I hope you like your present!

XI Squadron did eventually make it home (after the RAF’s fleet of Voyager tankers regained flying status), after which life settled back down to a steady pace of training flying whilst catching up with everything at home.  We swiftly had an XI Squadron dining in night in the Officers’ Mess to welcome all the new members that have joined us so far this year. We welcome Flt Lt Rob ‘Bobby’ Neaum who has joined us straight from completing his flying training on the new Hawk T2 at RAF Valley, Flt Lt Will ‘The Cat’ Ricketts who was previously an instructor on the Tactical Weapons course at RAF Valley after a tour on the Torando GR4, and Flt Lt Jamie ‘Annie’ Lennox joins us from the Typhoon Simulator, also after a tour on the Tornado. They are all enjoying their busy work up so that they can gain the coveted Combat Ready patch on their sleeve.

As with each issue, we have also had leavers from the Squadron. Flt Lt Mike ‘Bruce’ Forsyth has been drawn to 29(R) Squadron like many of our pilots in recent times. We’re sure you’ll be a great addition to the team over there Brucey. We have also lost our notorious Holding Officer Flt Lt Ed ‘Shed’ Arkell who has returned to RAF Valley to continue his flying training in a few months on the Hawk T2. Thank you for the banter Shed, enough said!

The Squadron has been involved in two exercises since returning back to the UK, Ex JOINT WARRIOR and Ex ANDROID PREFERENCE. Ex JOINT WARRIOR saw three XI Squadron aircraft flying to RAF Leuchars to partake in air-air training missions with multiple aircraft types including the Tornado GR4 and the French Mirage; good opportunity to fly with our friends from across the water. Ex ANDROID PREFERENCE is the exercise run during the Qualified Weapon Instructors course on 29(R) Squadron. XI provided aircraft to allow the students on the course to hone their skills at organising and running large scale air missions.

As the article goes to print, XI Squadron are planning their next exercise in June, Ex ANATOLIAN EAGLE where the Squadron will train with aircraft from Turkey exposing our pilots to large multi-aircraft missions presenting a good opportunity to work up some of our newer pilots. Following that, XI Squadron, along with the rest of the Typhoon force, will send pilots to Lithuania to support the NATO Baltic Air Patrol mission.

It’s going to be a busy year and before we know it, it’ll be Christmas! Lots to do but much fun to be had over the next few months.