XI Sqn Update
Royal Success in The United Arab Emirates
XI Sqn deployed to India during October and November 2011; on the way home they were asked to complete another Detachment in UAE called Exercise AIR KHANJAR, with Typhoons flying alongside UAE M2000s and F16s.The Exercise saw XI Sqn deploy six Typhoons supported by two E3D Sentry aircraft from RAF Waddington to Al Dhafra Air Force Base in the UAE under 906 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), commanded by Wing Commander Jez Attridge.
The Royal State visit to Abu Dhabi by the Queen and Prince Phillip coincided with AIR KHANJAR, which enabled 906 EAW to become involved with a Royal Flypast. XI Sqn launched a 4-ship with an 8 Sqn Sentry as part of a 22 ship UAE-led flypast; it proved to be a great success, arriving on time and on target. Not only did XI Sqn deploy with its own pilots, but it was resolutely bolstered by 3(F) Sqn and 6 Sqn. This brought a breadth of experience to the team not only for flying along side UAEs pilots, but also with the mission planning and overall co-ordination and it was good for inter Sqn banter! It proved that the Wing continues to have strong interoperability amongst the Front Line Squadrons.
The engineering support, coupled with the dry conditions, allowed the Typhoon and Sentry to make every mission and achieve 110% of planned sorties. This is testament to the hard work of the engineers who endured some incredibly demanding conditions on the pan. Not only did the Typhoon make use of this opportunity to build on the bilateral relationship with the UAE, but also to work with HMS Cumberland, which was operating in the Persian Gulf. This enabled 906 EAW to exercise protecting and attacking the ship.
The UAE had other advantages apart from the fantastic flying and serviceability rates. It also provided the opportunity to explore what was on its doorstep. The EAW was given the opportunity to sample some of the local culture in Abu Dhabi and utilize some of the great sports and social facilities on offer. The Detachment culminated in a quiet, sober black-tie dinner in the Aloft Hotel. The Sqn were away for nearly 3 months in India and the UAE and returned in mid December to a hectic social calendar including the Exchange Drinks, Pilots Lunch and Sqn Christmas party all within 3 days; the social Esprit de Corps has continued well into 2011. January started off with an epic Dads Dining-In Night in College Hall Officers’ Mess at RAFC Cranwell, which was an excellent opportunity to show our fathers a traditional Dining-In, in historic surroundings. The Sqn Execs took a break from flying for a Golf Day, which saw the SEngO earn the camel for the most bunkers and the beaver for losing the most balls in a couple of small puddles alongside the course, whilst the XO ‘schwacked’ the main window in the clubhouse from a bunker on the 18th; he is still paying for a new window!
We say goodbye to a few Sqn members with Rich Tuer leaving XI to try his hand at Flight Commander duties on all the other Typhoon Sqns. The ‘saviour of the Reds’ Pablo goes up to 6 Sqn on promotion when he returns from the Falkland Islands. Sqn Ldr Des Smith departs OOA to Afghanistan with his laugh being used for PysOps on the bad guys; he is replaced by Sqn Ldr Bob Jones who arrives from the morale centric base at Linton. We also say hello to Sarah Waghorn our new ‘JEngO’. Welcome all and Rich, Pabs and Des thank you for all your hard work.