EVEN BY TYPHOON FORCE STANDARDS, THE LAST FEW MONTHS HAVE BEEN A BUSY PERIOD FOR XI(F) SQN. WHILST COMPLETING OUR PREPARATIONS TO ASSUME VERY HIGH READINESS DUTIES, XI(F) WAS ALSO TASKED WITH SUPPORTING OP SIPLING – THE MISSION TO REPLACE THE TYPHOON FIGHTERS IN THE FALKLANDS ISLANDS.
In September the Falkland Islands are fairly deep in South Atlantic wintry conditions, so what better time to send mighty XI(F) Sqn; no task too big. Therefore it was no surprise that all four jets were successfully swapped and the first Maltese Cross bearing Typhoon’s were returned back to the warm comforts of Blighty.
A malfunction with the Hercules support aircraft meant the detachment had to remain in the Canary Isles for one more night than planned, much to the dismay of the Squadron’s engineers. Fortuitously, the pilots had to don their protective Immersion Suits and high-tog undergarments as although the temperature in Ascension Island was a balmy 30 degrees they were advised that the threat of sharks was totally mitigated as their teeth can’t get through the Typhoon kit, just ask Flt Lt Jenkins! The Op was completed with no significant issues, which is a huge testament to the good planning and the remarkable work done by the engineers – especially on the return leg where there were no ‘rest days’ between transit legs on which rectifications could take place.
Just before Op SIPLING commenced, members of XI(F) were hosted at the Goodwood Revival by the Bank of Montreal Global Asset Management Company, or BMOGAM, (formerly F&C)..Earlier in the year XI(F) had hosted BMOGAM and it was a surprise to hear just how infrequently companies such as theirs used effective debriefing as a tool to avoid future failures and breed success. Many lessons were taken away by our guests and we like to think that aside from sharing painfully long acronyms, we’ve helped spread years of Royal Air Force expertise, sometimes learned at great cost, to those in positions of financial power. Either that or we’re just worried about the security of our pensions.
In late September, two of the younger members of the Sqn’s Ops personnel took part in Ex Atlantic Blue, an offshore diving expedition, also to Ascension Island. Or so they thought…. Due to an electrical and heating failure of the island’s dive centre, the course was redirected to the delightful North Sea. However, the divers managed to explore wrecks from World War One and actually may have had a better, if not colder, time of it there than further south.
Finally, on 1 Oct 15 Wg Cdr Chris Layden concluded his tenure as Officer Commanding XI(F) Sqn and handed the Sqn over to Wg Cdr Matt Peterson. “Laydo” will begin an overseas command; however, as he has somehow wriggled his way back into Oxford University, this will not be before he completes ‘further training’; at least that’s what he called it. Those Oxford students do not know what’s about to hit them.
“Petley” joins as a former Typhoon Flight Commander with previous experience on the Jaguar training aircraft and will lead the Squadron to the United States for Ex TRILAT. With “pre-match arrogance” being such a hot topic for the England Rugby team, and the experience of 3(not so fighter) Squadron, XI(F) will meet our American and French counterparts in the air as allies, gleaning what we can from our comrades while sharing a few tricks of our own. We look forward to reporting the results of our pre-Christmasendeavours in the next edition, but for now we wish all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!