LAST YEAR WAS QUITE A YEAR FOR THE RAF’S PREMIER TYPHOON SQUADRON. XI SQUADRON GOT THE HONOUR OF DEPLOYING TYPHOONS FOR THE FIRST TIME TO EXERCISE RED FLAG IN THE USA. WE THEN SAW EX ANDROID PREFERENCE WHERE XI SQN HELPED THE QWI STUDENTS WITH LARGE FORCE EXERCISE TRAINING MISSIONS.
Finally, XI Sqn were deployed on contingent operations to RAF Akrotiri to provide the Air Defence Quick Reaction Alert component on Operation LUMINOUS. On return to Coningsby, we all settled back into normal training flying with plenty of QRA whilst 3(F) Sqn were enjoying themselves in the UAE.
After being away in Cyprus for the best part of 3 months, XI was fortunate to have a few socials in the run-up to Christmas. A dinner at the White Hart hotel gave XI Sqn personnel the opportunity for a catch up and let their hair down after LUMINOUS; Lincoln is still recovering! We also had the joys of the Christmas Draw where Sqn Ldr Andy Chisholm and Flt Lt Luke Wilkinson (aka Santa Claus) pulled out all the stops. How the Frank Sinatra sing-a-like never made it big, we’ll never know! We then had the Pilots’ Lunch to look forward to which we graciously organised with 3(F) Sqn out of the country. Mess games were rife but despite a passionate match of mess rugby, all pilots seemed to emerge unscathed.
In the last few weeks of the year, the XI Sqn engineers have continued to work hard to generate sufficient aircraft to meet the busy 16 serial flying programme and maintain QRA whilst simultaneously preparing aircraft for Ex. MAGIC CARPET. To meet the increased flying tempo, the engineers worked 12 hour shifts for 2 weeks.The Rapid Intervention Team began recovering the aircraft from Op. LUMINOUS and were supported heavily by the XI Sqn mechanical tradesman. The dedication and professionalism shown by the engineers, while they worked tirelessly to generate sufficient aircraft for the flying programme, and also on the recovery of the Op. LUMINOUS aircraft was outstanding. They constantly exceeded target after target and should be rightly proud of what they have achieved. Our thanks goes out to the Station for the support we received during this busy time, without which the end result would have been very different.
XI Sqn have welcomed a few new people since the last article. Flt Lt Paul ‘Yorkie’ Beevers has joined us from 41 Sqn with extensive experience from the Tornado GR4. Flt Lt Scott Noyes has also joined the pilots after a ‘creamie’ tour at RAF Valley. Our Intelligence Officer has been replaced by Fg Off Rebecca Camm and our Operations Officer has likewise been replaced by Flt Lt Kayleigh Pearson. We’ve also had Cpl Jo Foggo join the Admin team to keep all of our lives together! Over the Christmas break, XI Sqn has sadly seen a few of its members move on to other pastures. Flt Lt Ryan Lawton and Flt Lt Luke ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson have crossed the runway to train the new arrivals to the Typhoon Force on 29(R) Sqn. They will be missed but we are sure they will be an asset to the instructor cadre. We also lose Flt Lt Sonny Roe to 29(R) Sqn who will take up the post as Sqn QWI and teach those fresh faced QWI wannabes what’s what. Flt Lt Alex ‘Thorney’ Thorne has also been posted to 29(R) Sqn but not as staff, as a student on the QWI course. We wish you the best of luck for the course and we hope you sweet talked Sonny enough while you were both on XI! Now that we have lost 4 pilots to the other side of camp, we would kindly ask 29(R) Sqn to send us some new ones soon please, broken ankles permitting……
After getting a taste for winter sun in Cyprus last year, we are looking forward to our heavy weapons exercise, Ex. MAGIC CARPET. XI Sqn sent Flt Lt Scott Noyes, Flt Lt Paul Halpin and Flt Lt Marty Geraghty first to enjoy the delights of the UAE. They get to pick up 4 Typhoons and ferry them to Bahrain for the Bahrain International Airshow, an excellent chance to get a bit of sightseeing done before meeting us on Ex. MAGIC CARPET. The exercise consists of 2 full weeks of flying with 8 aircraft from XI and 3(F) Sqns. As this article goes to print, XI Sqn will be practising its Multi-Role Skills by training in heavy weapons ranges with host nation air assets. The exercise is a good opportunity to develop our air-to-ground skills which will involve live bomb drops utilising both GPS and Laser guidance. The highlight will be a Typhoon first, live firing air-to-ground strafe attacks, something that all of the pilots are looking forward to experiencing.
Once we return from Ex. MAGIC CARPET, XI Sqn is looking forward to settling back into the normal swing of life at Coningsby with regular training flying and QRA duties. However, with Ex. JOINT WARRIOR and CQWI on the horizon, XI Sqn will be involved in some larger scale training missions later this year. Hopefully by then our sun-tans will have worn off, just in time for summer!