XI SQN UPDATE
The year is coming to a close for XI Sqn and the RAF’s first and best fighter squadron has had a very eventful one at that! Since the last issue, we have returned from the last exercise in our diary – the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course (ATLC) held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This brings to a close a very busy year which has see n us deploy on several exercises and deployments.
Firstly, we would like to say a formal goodbye to our comrades of 3(F) Sqn who have now moved back to their site (finally!) on the southern side of the airfield. It has been a pleasure hosting them at our home over the summer months but it is nice to have a bit of space again!
At the beginning of October, OC XI Sqn gained a significant achievement by completing his 1000th hour flying the Typhoon. A huge congratulation to Wg Cdr Layden as this is still a relatively rare occurrence on the Typhoon force, so much so that the Station Commander travelled all the way over to the XI Sqn line to present our boss with his 1000 hour Typhoon patch to wear with pride.
At the end of October, XI Sqn flew 5 aircraft to the UAE to participate in Ex ATLC. This is a course held by the UAE Air Force designed to improve the skills and capability of Mission Commanders in assembling and coordinating large scale airborne packages in order to achieve a mission. This year, ATLC saw several nations participate including the United States Air Force, the Royal Saudi Air Force with F-15s, the UAE Air Force with F-16s and Mirage 2000s and of course the RAFs Eurofighter Typhoon. XI Sqn was in the UAE for 3 weeks which allowed our pilots to gain a useful insight into how other nations’ Air Forces operate. The daily exercise programme presented good opportunities to test our skills in the large-scale mission environment and also allowed us to progress individuals through Combat Ready work-up sorties. At this point, we must give our thanks to the XI Sqn engineers who worked tirelessly throughout the exercise and, without fail, produced the aircraft needed on the line allowing us all to uphold the RAF’s prestigious reputation for delivering missions. In between the ATLC missions, we were able to train against our friends from Saudi Arabia which gave both nations a chance to test our skills against one another. The 3 weeks of the course literally flew by and whilst the working days were hard, XI Sqn still found enough time to socialise by sampling the delights that Abu Dhabi had to offer and to top up that winter tan!
As always, with every issue of One2One, we have had a few changes to the personnel of XI Sqn. So on that note, we would like to welcome some new faces. Welcome to Sqn Ldr Roger Wells, the XI Sqn Uncle, who joins the squadron as a reservist after retiring from the RAF as a Wing Commander. Sqn Ldr Wells will fulfill a new role in the squadron as a family liaison officer. This will aim to increase communication with the squadron members’ families whilst XI Sqn is away on operations or exercises. We would also like to welcome Flt Lt John ‘Skins’ Skinner who joins us from the QWI course on 29(R) Sqn. Finally, welcome to Flt Lt Chris ‘Jenks’ Jenkins who previously flew the Tornado GR4 before his time in the Typhoon Training Facility as an instructor. Jenks has recently finished the OCU on 29(R) Sqn and will be in the middle of his Combat Ready work up by the time this goes to print.
It has been a whirlwind year for the RAF’s premier fighting squadron. We have operated in several countries including Oman, Lithuania, Turkey, and the UAE, and we’ve received excellent training opportunities as a result. It has been a busy yet enjoyable year for all and we now look forward to the run up to Christmas with all of the socials it has to offer! Next year already looks equally busy with the possibility of exercises in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and also the UAE for another ATLC. So until then, Merry Christmas Coningsby!