Showing posts with label Royal Air Force. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Royal Air Force. Show all posts

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Royal Air Force Typhoons take part in large international exercise in Qatar

Typhoons from RAF Coningsby-based XI(Fighter) Squadron, have taken part in a large international exercise in Qatar.

Royal Air Force Typhoons take part in large international exercise in Qatar

The exercise known as Ferocious Falcon V, involved forces from Qatar, France, Italy, Türkiye and the United States. The RAF Typhoons were also joined by elements of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and HMS Lancaster.

The Qatari led exercise is designed to bring partner forces together to increase combat efficiency and increase unity. The exercise also strengthens the bonds of friendship, the support of joint action and the exchange of experiences with these countries.

Elements from the Qatari land, naval and air forces all took part in the exercise. The Qatari aim was that all military personnel from the participating countries will gain experience in the field and strengthen international relations by cooperating in various missions.

Squadron Leader Hodgkinson, XI (F) Squadron Detachment Commander said:  “This Exercise offered increased exposure to our allies in the Broader Middle East, facilitating advanced training and integration. The small detachment of pilots and specialist engineers have delivered 100% exercise sortie completion rates and the opportunity to work closely with international allies has been invaluable.

XI (F) Squadron, like the rest of the Typhoon Force, are held at readiness to project Combat Air across the globe.  We have completed Ex Bersama Lima in Malaysia and then pivoted to the Middle East for this exercise, reflecting the agility and resilience the squadron and aircraft offers”.

Royal Air Force Typhoons take part in large international exercise in Qatar

Tuesday 24 October 2023

New global surveillance aircraft begins UK trials

A new uncrewed RAF aircraft, capable of global surveillance operations, will begin trials in the UK this week.

The first of 16 remotely piloted Protector aircraft has arrived at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire to commence a series of rigorous trials and tests before entering the RAF fleet.

Equipped with a suite of surveillance equipment, the Protector aircraft will bring a critical global surveillance capability for the UK, all while being remotely piloted from RAF Waddington.

It will be able to undertake a wide range of tasking including land and maritime surveillance to track threats, counter-terrorism and support to UK civil authorities, such as assisting HM Coastguard with search and rescue missions.

With a wingspan of 79 feet, the uncrewed aircraft can operate at heights up to 40,000 feet and has an endurance of more than 30 hours, enabling unparalleled surveillance and strike capability. 

The aircraft has been assembled by a newly reformed 31 Squadron who are preparing it for ground and air testing ahead of its anticipated in-service date later next year. 31 Sqn, which previously operated the Tornado GR4, will operate and maintain the aircraft at RAF Waddington. The squadron has a long history stretching back to 1915 and have operated multiple aircraft types in the last century. They are exclusively a Protector Sqn now and have been reformed to operate Protector as it enters Service.  

Defence Procurement Minister, James Cartlidge MP said: "The UK’s world-class Protector aircraft will emphasise our ultra-modern surveillance, intelligence, and precision strike capabilities, ensuring we are ready to monitor and protect against potential adversaries around the globe.

“With the first aircraft at RAF Waddington ready to begin trials, we will once again demonstrate how we are spearheading military defence technology." 

The first phase of tests, beginning this week, will involve ground testing of the satellite links and taxi procedures, as well as take-off and landing trials. This will also incorporate a circuit above RAF Waddington.

In addition to accepting the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) roles currently undertaken by Reaper, which has provided exceptional service on operations around the clock for more than 15 years, Protector will be certified to stringent NATO safety and certification standards allowing it to operate in the UK and European civilian airspace.

Senior Responsible Owner, Protector Programme Air Commodore Alex Hicks, said: "The arrival of the UK’s first Protector to the Royal Air Force is the culmination of years of work by many personnel across the whole of the MOD. The ISR Capability Team will be working with 56 Sqn, our test and evaluation experts, who will put the aircraft through its paces to ensure it is ready for operational service next year, whilst the newly reformed 31 Sqn will focus on preparing to operate the aircraft in service. This is an important milestone for the Programme, Air Force and wider defence and I am delighted to see Protector at RAF Waddington."

Head of Remotely Piloted Air System DE&S, Simon Holford said: "The arrival of the first Protector system in the UK is a major milestone for the project.  It reflects all of the hard work that everyone involved has put in to reach this stage, and we are immensely proud of our achievements.  However, we can’t rest on our laurels as there is much more to do. Now assembled, this aircraft will be used to perform initial UK flight trials ahead of progressively delivering the capability to the RAF next year."

The arrival of 15 further aircraft from General Atomics in the US into the UK will be a phased delivery over the coming years. All aircraft are expected to be delivered by the end of 2025.

Sunday 8 October 2023

Two RAF Typhoon Squadrons deploy simultaneously to opposite sides of the world

This week, two Typhoon Squadrons have deployed simultaneously to Operation Carson in Poland & Exercise Bersama Lima in Malaysia.

In Poland, the operational detachment codenamed Op Carson, involves pilots undertaking combat air training with NATO allies Poland, Italy and Spain. This training includes dogfighting against different types of aircraft, and Close Air Support (CAS) training that helps ground forces in combat. This activity went ahead of the Warsaw Security Forum, where ministers from Defence and the FCDO stressed the need to maintain support for Ukraine and keep up the pressure on Russia.

RAF Typhoon and a foreign aircraft flying together over land

In Malaysia, the Typhoons flew nearly 7000 miles with support of the Voyager aircraft to work together in an air defence scenario with partners from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. These nations form the Five Powers Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which is a defensive military agreement to help maintain security in the region.

Whether its flying alongside allies in Poland, or 7000 miles away in Malaysia, the jets are always busy developing strong and enduring international partnerships.

Tuesday 3 October 2023

RAF achieves Initial Operating Capability on its latest Terminal Air Traffic Control Centre

The third and final Royal Air Force Terminal Air Traffic Control Centre (TATCC) has achieved Initial Operating Capability at RAF Brize Norton.

Air Traffic Controller using the new tech with a contractor from Aquila.  Photo RAF

The move has seen the amalgamation of the RAF Brize Norton and RAF Benson Air Traffic Control radar teams to create TATCC (South), the latest ‘hub’ concept of Air Traffic Service delivery. The new centre joins existing hub sites at RAF Coningsby (TATCC (Lincs) providing services to Barkston, Cranwell and Waddington) and at RAF Marham (TATCC (East) providing services to Wittering).

Air Traffic Controllers using the new equipment.  Photo RAF

The development has seen nine radar trained personnel move from Benson to Brize Norton where they have used the Thales TopSky display for the first time. The exploitation of feeds from cutting-edge STAR-NG and WAM surveillance sensors represents a huge stride forward in capability compared to legacy radar equipment.

Air Traffic Controllers using the new technology  Photo RAF

This centralised model eliminates the need for radar staff to be dispersed over a wide geographic area, fosters improved co-ordination, and allows for future optimisation.

The change was welcomed by the TATCC (South) Commander, Squadron Leader Clayton who said,

It’s a genuine privilege to be a part of the new beginning for Brize ATC now that it has transitioned to the TATCC(S). The incredible amount of effort by the team in the tower and on the Marshall Delivery Team is clear to see. I’m now looking forward to welcoming Odiham and Boscombe Down in the near future and delivering future optimisation.

The current staff strength of circa 70 personnel is set to rise to over 90 in 2024 when additional personnel from RAF Odiham and MOD Boscombe Down join the team. This expansion is the next step to a Full Operating Capability that will see TATCC (South) become the largest terminal ATS provider in the UK Military.

The move is part of Programme Marshall, a £1.9 Billion investment in Military Air Traffic equipment throughout the whole Defence estate, at home and abroad.

The delivery of the complex and highly technical project has required significant cross-functional effort from teams within DE&S, 2 Group Battlespace Management and Aquila. The importance of this relationship was echoed by Aquila CEO, Mike Stoller, who said: 

The creation of the TATCC at RAF Brize Norton is the result of strong collaboration between Aquila, our team partners, and our customer the MOD. The TATCC or 'Hub' concept is at the very core of Marshall and just one of many benefits that the programme is delivering. Programme Marshall is set to transform air traffic management at our military sites across the UK and overseas.

With another key milestone reached, the programme continues at pace delivering new and proven equipment to ensure our Air Traffic Service providers have the best tools available to them.

Royal Air Force jets arrive at Polish air base for joint training

Royal Air Force Typhoon jets have arrived at a Polish Air Base to conduct multiple training exercises with Poland and other NATO allies.

The four Typhoons and a Globemaster C-17 transport aircraft flew from RAF Akrotiri, where the Typhoons are currently based, to Poznan where they were welcomed by their Polish counterparts.

The two-week deployment, codenamed Op Carson, will involve pilots undertaking combat air training with Poland, Italy and Spain to practice dogfighting against different types of aircraft to develop tactics. Close Air Support (CAS) training will also be conducted with UK and US Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) who direct the action of combat aircraft.

The Typhoon detachment is being led by, Sqn Ldr Hunter, who said:  "Over the next fortnight, we will be working closely with our allies practicing engaging targets beyond visual range and simulating various possible combat scenarios with forces both on the ground and in the air over Eastern skies.
We take our role in European security seriously and these joint exercises only serve to bolster collective defence across the region."

In addition to the flying Squadron, UK-based RAF personnel including engineers, cyberspace communication specialists, force protection specialists and a range of trades with high-level skill sets are forward deployed to Poland to enable the delivery of the training.

The detachment is being supported by part of the Tactical Communications Wing, a part of 90 Signals Unit.  Sergeant Connolly from the detachment said:

90SU are an effective Global Enablement unit who establish a base for aircraft to operate from. The encompassing capability of all supporting functions is crucial in successful operational output despite where, when or how it is required.

The activity comes ahead of UK Ministers attending the Warsaw Security Forum this week. Defence Minister James Heappey and FCDO ministers Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Lord Ahmad will all use the forum to stress the need to maintain support for Ukraine and keep up the pressure on Russia.

Saturday 30 September 2023

RAF Chinook helps with massive Kiwi restoration...

RAF Odiham big Kiwi lift

Earlier this week, a Chinook from RAF Odiham, supported the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) with the restoration of the chalk Kiwi carved into a hillside in Bulford, Wiltshire.

Aerial view of the hillside chalk kiwi on the right

A Chinook belonging to 18(B) Sqn from RAF Odiham used a training sortie to enable the restoration of the chalk Kiwi through a series of underslung loads. The historic site was created by New Zealand (NZ) soldiers, who were based in the UK in 1919. It was created to commemorate the NZ soldiers’ achievements during the First World War.

Back of the head of the New Zealand pilot as he flies the chinook, his New Zealand patch evident on the back of his flight helmet. 

This part of the longer training sortie offered a different perspective for all involved. The Chinook was operated by two pilots and one of them was a NZ exchange Pilot, Flt Lt James Patrick, “JP” as he is known to his friends, who was delighted to be part of this sortie.  JP has been in the UK for over two years and has already represented NZ as he was part of the formation flypast for HMTQ Platinum Jubilee flying the Chinook.

“JP has been with the Squadron for 18 months now. A superb individual, he brings a wealth of instructional experience to the Chinook Force and has already deployed alongside NATO partners on operations.”

Wing Commander T Carter
Officer Commanding 18(B) Sqn

This task is an excellent opportunity for the Chinook Force to increase its expertise with novel underslung loads. A core skill, it is used regularly on worldwide operations as well as National Support tasks.

Chinook flying overhead with the chalk load under slung

The Chinook lift capability with its two Honeywell turboshaft engines can deliver 55 Troops or 10 tons of freight, flying up to 160 Knots. So the chalk that was underslung for this task was given to the right aircraft. JP said:

"It was a great honour to be at the controls, delivering to such a historic site and being part of something that is part of my history."

The NZ High Commissioner and NZ Defence Force were also in attendance at the “Kiwi” alongside several DIO and Army units, including Joint Helicopter Support Squadron (JHSS), who prepared the chalk to be underslung and monitored the release at the site.

Military personnel and others, spread the chalk over the site to restore the Kiwi. 

Tuesday 26 September 2023

RAF Typhoons land and take off from a road for first time

Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets have successfully landed on and taken off from a regular road for the first time.

Two of the RAF’s frontline jets tested and proved the capability in Finland as part of Exercise Baana. The Finnish Air Force’s annual training exercise took place on a single-lane road in Tervo, which is usually used for normal road traffic but specially designed as an emergency landing strip to sustain aircraft activity if required.

The RAF is focussing on ways to conduct Agile Combat Employment to outmanoeuvre an adversary – to survive an attack, disperse to remote locations and continue operating with minimal support.

The Officer Commanding of 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron was one of the two pilots to take part. He said:  “This is an opportunity to work with one of our newest NATO partners on an exercise in Agile Combat Employment. The Finnish have worked hard for decades on disparate operations should they be attacked and need to disperse their aircraft.  Once we landed on the strip we stopped to refuel before taking off again, I couldn’t help but look around and think ‘I am sitting in a jet on a road in the middle of a forest in Finland’. That was pretty crazy and definitely a first.”

A small number of RAF personnel were on the ground to refuel and maintain the aircraft to ensure they could continue operating.

A second pilot said:  “This is a great step forward for RAF Typhoon capability. We often talk about capability being the stuff that we fly with such as weapons and sensors.

What is great about this is it a novel way of employing the jet, improving our survivability against modern threats and operating from dispersed locations, and also doing that while working closely with our allies who are absolutely critical to future operations.”  

The RAF used to operate from unusual locations such as roads and fields during the Cold War, in order to make our aircraft harder for the enemy to find, Russian aggression in Eastern Europe has reminded us all of the need to be able to disperse our aircraft and be more unpredictable, so why we are completing exercises such as this.

This is the first time the RAF has taken part in the exercise, which is now part of the Finnish Air Force’s routine flying training. The Norwegian Air Force, also taking part for the first time, tested their F-35A Lightning aircraft, a 5th generation fighter jet also operated by the UK and 15 other allied countries.

The RAF Typhoons were operating out of Rissala Air Base and Tervo Road Base for these trials. It provides the opportunity to expand the combat air knowledge and practices of using Emergency Landing Strips and dispersed operations.

The UK and Finland enjoy a close defence relationship as NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force allies, and often train and deploy together on exercises around the world. Finnish troops also work side-by-side with the British Armed Forces to train Ukrainian recruits in the UK.

Saturday 23 September 2023

UK's RAF E-7 Wedgetail reaches another new milestone......

The Royal Air Force’s E-7 Wedgetail AEW1 Programme has reached another milestone with Officer Commanding VIII Squadron (Designate), Wing Commander Sarah McDonnell, qualifying on type.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Boeing Australia delivered the qualifying course, which culminated in Wing Commander McDonnell's graduation during the Summer 2023.

The course, a mix of ground school (class-based instruction and simulator training) and live flying on the RAAF E-7A Wedgetail, concluded with an end of course exercise, where the Wedgetail worked closely with F-35 Lightning.

Following graduation, Wg Cdr McDonnell will now maintain currency on the Wedgetail AEW1, as part of the RAF’s Seedcorn programme, until the arrival of the UK’s Wedgetail aircraft.

The Seedcorn programme, sees RAF technicians, and aircrew embedded within 2 Squadron at RAAF Williamtown, New South Wales. The symbiotic relationship assists the RAAF with the delivery of E-7A Wedgetail capability and will provide a vital core of experienced personnel to operate UK Wedgetail at RAF Lossiemouth.

Wing Commander McDonnell said  “This is another milestone in my journey towards commanding No 8 Squadron in the not-too-distant future, which is a real privilege. I absolutely love this new capability and the camaraderie I felt working as part of a crew again reminded me of my time on the E-3D Sentry.

I have learned so much from the RAAF team and I’m hugely grateful for their continued and unwavering support. I am extremely proud to be joining the team of UK qualified E-7 Wedgetail operators, but more importantly as a collective we cannot wait to return to the UK and start flying our own Wedgetail AEW1."

The E-7 Wedgetail is the most capable and effective airborne early warning and control platform in operation today and has the growth path to match the expected threat over the next 20 years. The RAF has purchased three Wedgetails, which are in various stages of modification by STS Aviation at Birmingham Airport. The handover of the first aircraft to the RAF is expected in late 2024. The Wedgetail AEW1 fleet will be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

RAF conducts torpedo training off the coast of Scotland

An RAF Poseidon crewed by 120 Squadron has been conducting torpedo training in the Moray Firth.

The aircraft dropped an inert torpedo into the sea as part of an exercise to train the crews in anti-submarine warfare.

Crews regularly practice dropping torpedoes in the simulator, however, live training such as this gives aircrew and ground crew the opportunity to hone their skills and demonstrate the correct procedures in real life. The recoverable exercise torpedo, or ‘REXTORP’ was then recovered by weapons specialists on board a maritime support vessel and returned to RAF Lossiemouth.

This exercise precedes the release of tomorrow’s episode of ‘Top Guns’, a Channel 4 documentary which will take viewers ‘behind the wire’ of RAF Lossiemouth and the Poseidon, showing how such a mission requires a full-team effort from station personnel, including armourers, engineers, and aircrew.

Wing Commander Livesey, Officer Commanding 120 Squadron said:  “Dropping a torpedo from Poseidon is a complex task which requires support across a large team. As we continue to grow the Poseidon Force, we will routinely undertake events such as these, to improve the lethality of Poseidon, enabled by those across the Whole Force at RAF Lossiemouth and beyond”.

The P-8A Poseidon is a Maritime Patrol Aircraft employed by the UK to carry out the roles of Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare, and long-range Search and Rescue. Based on the Boeing 737 next-generation aircraft, it is fitted with a suite of cutting-edge sensors capable of detecting and tracking submarines and surface vessels.

Monday 11 September 2023

RAF A400M Atlas has transported UK search and rescue teams to Morocco following earthquake

Two Royal Air Force A400M Atlas aircraft are transporting UK search and rescue teams to Morocco following the 6.8 magnitude earthquake. The teams include sixty search and rescue specialists, a medical assessment team, four search dogs and rescue equipment.

The first aircraft took off from RAF Brize Norton earlier this evening and the second aircraft will follow shortly. The A400M Atlas has the ability to carry 37-tonnes over 2,000 miles, which enables it to transport the teams to Marrakech without refuelling.

Grant Shapps, the new UK Defence Secretary said:  "This is a devastating time for the people of Morocco, particularly those with loved ones they have lost or are missing. The UK has taken a leading role in the international effort to enhance search and rescue operations - moving quickly to deploy our unique strategic airlift capabilities, expert personnel and aid. We stand firmly by Morocco as they get through this terrible event."

The UK International Search and Rescue team (UKISAR) respond to disasters on behalf of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. They have specialist search equipment including seismic listening devices, concrete cutting and breaking equipment, propping and shoring tools. The specialist kit gives the team the capacity to lift, cut and remove concrete and rubble to reach people under collapsed buildings.

The UK Emergency Medical Team (EMT) is deploying a four-person British medical assessment team to assess the situation on the ground and coordinate with Moroccan authorities.

Monday 4 September 2023

RAF instructors begin training on Protector in the United States

Personnel from 54 Squadron, are currently undertaking the first Instructor Operating Course on Protector simulators at the General Atomics – Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) Flight Test & Training Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.   The Operational Conversion Course (OCU) 1 crews, comprising a Pilot, Sensor Operator, and Mission Intelligence Coordinator (MIC), have been testing various simulated scenarios, under the tuition of GA-ASI Instructors.  The GA Instructors were previously evaluated by personnel from the RAF’s Central Flying School-Examination Wing as part of the Military Aviation Authority governed Contractor Flying Approved Organization Scheme.

Simulated missions include Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance activity to find, fix and follow designated targets on the ground, with the pilot maintaining an optimum position in the air, while the Sensor Operator and MIC work together to maintain target tracking.

The course familiarises future instructors with the RAF-specific training material and mission scenarios which will form the basis of RAF delivered training to all Protector crews. Future OCU training will evaluate the skills required to operate Protector and its equipment, including real-time exploitation of intelligence involving the Multi-Spectral Targeting System and Synthetic Aperture Radar.

Officer Commanding 54 Squadron, the Advanced Air Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Academy, is Wing Commander Evans, said: "The Protector Instructor Orientation Course marks an important milestone in the Programme and in the training of the OCU 1 crews, the majority of whom will be the first batch of RAF instructors on Protector. Ensuring the course and the simulator scenarios that support training delivery are suitable for all experience levels is paramount if we are to achieve our future training output.

This groundwork, conducted in partnership with General Atomics, will see Protector become a game changing capability for the RAF and future international partners, with realistic simulation at the very heart of training delivery and operational effectiveness."

Equipped with a suite of advanced equipment and precision strike weapons, Protector will provide critical armed surveillance capability and will be able to deploy against potential adversaries around the globe. The aircraft will also be able to fly in busy unsegregated airspace thanks to ‘detect and avoid’ technology with a potential endurance of over 40 hours. The Programme includes expansion of 54 Squadron capability, with new infrastructure at RAF Waddington including a training centre for UK and international students. The centre will put the RAFs ISTAR Force at the very forefront of Remotely Piloted Air Systems for the UK and partner nations.

The UK is investing in 16 Protector RG Mk1 for the RAF; the first eight will enable an Initial Operating Capability scheduled for 2025 at RAF Waddington. Capable of operating anywhere in the world, the Lincolnshire base will be the home of the Force, the site of launch and recovery to support domestic training, and command and control for overseas operations.

Length: 37.5ft (11.43m)
Wingspan: 79ft (24m)
Maximum take-off weight: 12,500lbs
Endurance: 40hrs +
Armament: 500lb Paveway IV laser-guided bombs and Brimstone 3 missiles.

Friday 1 September 2023

RAF Typhoons strengthen historic links with Royal Jordan Air Force

400 miles an hour 500ft from the ground; Typhoon pilots from RAF Coningsby have been testing their flying skills to the limit in the Jordanian desert.

Typhoons flying over Wadi Rum desert

The fighter pilots have been conducting low-level flying training with their Jordanian counterparts in the Wadi Rum desert. The spectacular desert region was used for filming for movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars and more recently Dune. The fighter jet sorties were not dissimilar to the Star Wars interceptors in the iconic films. 

The unique and unfamiliar landscape provided a testing training area where the pilots honed their low-flying skills. These skills are required for tasks such as evading adversary aircraft and air defence systems. Flying in a mountainous desert region presents additional navigational and environmental challenges.

Cockpit view of typhoons flying over desert

The Typhoon pilots flew in formation with Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s as part of a series of training events with Jordanian forces. This training enables the aircrew to learn from each other and practice operating together.

The pilots had to fly with immaculate precision around the terrain whilst continuously maintaining safe distances from each other. This required exceptional flying skills, mutual trust and strong communication. The success of the training was a testament to the aircraft capabilities and the professionalism of the two air forces.

Shortly after the demanding sortie Officer Commanding 3 (Fighter) Squadron, Wing Commander Buchler, said:

Shortly after the demanding sortie Officer Commanding 3 (Fighter) Squadron, Wing Commander Buchler, said: "It is nearly 20 years since I last flew over Wadi Rum in a Jaguar, but the landscape still takes your breath away as you cruise in from the North. The rich history of the region is symbolic of our close ties with the Royal Jordanian Air Force, and it is always a pleasure to conduct training serials with them. We fly and fight in a very similar fashion, and their support on Op Shader is extremely valuable. I look forward to joining their F16s at Low Level over Stars War country in the coming years."

Essential support was provided by an RAF Voyager, which provided air-to-air refuelling to prolong the duration and range of the training.

The UK and Jordan have a longstanding and important partnership. Cooperation, such as through Defence activity, is key to maintaining stability and security in the Middle East.

The Typhoons from 3(Fighter) Squadron flew from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus where they are currently supporting operations in the Middle East to help combat Daesh in Iraq and Eastern Syria, as part of the international coalition against terrorism.

RAF's P8 Poseidon aircraft playing a crucial role in protecting the North Sea from Russian navy ships

P8 Poseidon operations in August 2023

As part of their ongoing role to protect UK waters, P8 Poseidon aircraft and crews from RAF Lossiemouth have been working with the Royal Navy to monitor Russian vessels in the North Sea and North Atlantic.

The RAF’s specialist maritime reconnaissance aircraft conducted regular sorties throughout August, working closely with the Royal Navy and NATO to track a range of Russian vessels operating in close proximity to the UK. This included flying 24 hours a day for multiple days, enabled by support personnel at RAF Lossiemouth across the Whole Force within Team Lossie.

Several vessels were associated with the Russian Navy Day, which was held in St Petersburg on 30th July, others joined from the High North. Incorporating a variety of warships, Poseidon tracked and photographed Corvettes Boikiy and Grad, Cruiser Marshal Ustinov, the Udaloy-class Destroyer Severomorsk, and others.

The Poseidons flew from their home base of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, northern Scotland and maintained a close watch on the vessels. These surveillance missions provide a greater understanding of the Russian Navy’s behaviour to help predict future activity and serves as a deterrent to ensure they do not enter UK waters.

The aircraft is flown by both 120 and 201 Squadrons and enabled by a multitude of units including 201 Squadron Engineering and the Tactical Operations Centre. A multi-role maritime reconnaissance aircraft, equipped with a range of modern sensors which give it world leading search and tracking capabilities. One of these is acoustic tracking for which sonobuoys are dropped from the aircraft to provide a network of sensors that relay acoustic data to the aircraft.

"This has been a very busy period for the team from across Poseidon and RAF Lossiemouth, once again generating live operations from UK soil. I am immensely proud of how they all stepped up to the task and just delivered in a highly professional way. The deterrence we have enabled in recent days is important to the UK and NATO, with this a key reason for why Poseidon hold operational readiness 365 days a year."

Wing Commander Livesey
Officer Commanding 120 Squadron

The crews worked closely with HMS Portland, which enabled constant monitoring from both the sea and air. During this period RAF Typhoon aircraft were also launched to intercept Russian aircraft that was believed to be working with the Russian Navy vessels.

With their collective arrays of powerful sensors for locating and tracking, the submarine-hunting frigate and maritime patrol aircraft form a formidable duo for locating and monitoring operations, allowing for constant surveillance from the sea and air.

Having detected a vessel, the aircraft communicated the position, allowing a warship to intercept and track it.

Monday 21 August 2023

The UK's Royal Air Force practices rapidly relocating fighter jets....

Four Typhoons from XI(F) SquadronRAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire were instructed without prior notice to transfer to MOD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire as part of Exercise Agile Pirate. They were tasked to be ready to operate Quick Reaction Alert – to respond to potential aerial threats in or near UK airspace – without delay, testing the RAF’s ability to rapidly disperse and operate assets vital to UK defence. Later in the exercise they were joined by two F-35B Lightning aircraft, with the fifth-generation fighter jets also taking the opportunity to test their operability at an unfamiliar airbase.

The exercise is part of the RAF’s aim to conduct Agile Combat Employment or ACE. It is an approach to operations that requires RAF personnel and assets to be flexible and agile; operating in austere locations with minimal support, constantly moving and changing location to maintain the initiative, and outpace any action from an adversary whether in the UK or overseas alongside our NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force partners.

Support teams from multiple bases provided operations, engineering, logistics, communications, security, and catering to the Typhoon deployment. They too had no prior notice but were able to depart their home bases 3 hours after activation. An Atlas A400M transport aircraft delivered a bulk of essential equipment to Boscombe Down just hours after activation and a day later the deployment was operational.

The Typhoons were on standby in hardened aircraft shelters and were airborne within minutes following a scramble call from Tactical Air Command and Control, referred to as Tac Air C2. Specialists from 19 Squadron at RAF Boulmer dispersed to radar sites across the UK to give a full visual of the situation, called the Recognised Air Picture, and control the scrambled aircraft to intercept simulated threats. They achieved multiple successful intercepts of target aircraft, and with this, their largest dispersal of Tac Air C2 assets in decades demonstrated the RAF’s ability to rapidly deploy and operate in austere conditions.

MOD Boscombe Down is the home of military aircraft testing and evaluation. It is a former RAF site which has been operated by QinetiQ since 2001. QinetiQ were extremely positive in supporting the exercise – providing airfield and air traffic services, refuelling, and powered working areas. RAF Typhoons previously conducted Quick Reaction Alert from Boscombe Down in 2012 for the Olympics

The RAF deployment otherwise strived to have a minimal footprint and impact to the site. This meant catering provided by the RAF’s Mobile Catering Squadron – 3MCS, communication links from 90 Signals Unit, airfield security provided by RAF Police, and tented accommodation.