Tag Archives: Royal Air Force

“Dambusters” Squadron’s final mission. Will reform and get F-35B in 2018.

RAF’s legendary Squadron disbanded 71 years after famous raid over Germany. Will reform and get F-35s in a few years.

Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron known as the “Dambusters”, from the daring night missions against the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams, pivotal to Hitler’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr Valley, back in 1943, completed their last operational mission (over Afghanistan) with the Tornado GR4.

It will be a temporary disbandment though: the unit will reform in 2018, with both Royal Air Force and Navy personnel and it will be equipped with the F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter.

This last flight was a Close Air Support (CAS) mission, which aimed at helping the coalition troops and was made by Squadron Leader, Mark Jackson.

The Dambuster played recce and CAS roles during their stay in Afghanistan, tasks that were handed over to No II (Army Co-operation) Squadron from RAF Marham.

The statistics of Dambusters’ last tour in  Afghanistan are astounding: the Squadron accumulated 188 missions and logged more than 1500 flying hours.

In the article published on the RAF website Mark Jackson said:

As I stepped down from the aircraft for the last time, my emotions were mixed. Tinged with sadness is an overwhelming sense of achievement for what the Squadron have accomplished. I am sure that the original Dambusters felt a similar poignancy at the end of their iconic raid and would echo how very proud I am of those that serve today.

One of a few interesting tasks the Dambusters performed was the show of force; 14 ones were conducted on their stay in Afghanistan.

What is it? It is basically flying fast and low to deter enemy forces from attacking coalition ground troops. In this way the Squadron paid tribute to its early days, when low level flying was needed to sneak close to the German dams.

Jackson reminisces, that it is nothing compared to the raids back in 1943, since then, the bomber pilots “came back from their mission pulling out bits of trees and twigs from the aircraft, they were literally skimming the trees to get there.”

The Dambusters are to be officially disbanded in March, but then there is a plan to reform the unit as the the RAF’s first Lightning II Squadron in 2018, provided all the problems with the American STOVL (Short Take Off Veritical Landing) stealth jet will be solved by then.

In this way the legacy will be maintained. Wing Commander Arthurton is waiting for the Dambusters to come back, as he says: “the spirit and ethos of this famous Squadron will no doubt endure as it embarks on the next chapter of its illustrious history.”

Written with David Cenciotti

617 Sqn final flight

Image Credit: Crown Copyright



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The world’s most realistic exercise underway at Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas

F-22 Raptors, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16s Fighting Falcons as well as RAF Typhoons and Tornados are taking part in Red Flag 14-1

Red Flag, world’s largest and more realistic exercise, has come back after the remaining editions of 2013 were cancelled as a consequence of the budged cuts imposed by the infamous sequestration.

The exercise, organized and conducted by the 414th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base and on the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), a military training area of more than 12,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land where about 2,000 possible targets and anti-aircraft systems are dispersed to simulate a realistic battlefield, aims to train pilots from the U.S. and allied air forces to operate, survive and win together in a modern war.

The drills feature also the bad guys, an adversary air force with F-15s and F-16s from the Air Force’s 64th and 65th AGRS (Aggressors Squadrons) whose taks is to threaten strike packages and prevent them to attack their targets.

Aggressors tails

Around 150 aircraft are scheduled to attend this year’s first Red Flag that, as usual, will feature two daily “waves” lasting up to five hours. Once again, along with the most important U.S. assets, including the F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and F-15E Strike Eagles, Nellis Air Force Base is hosting some allied contingents.

F-22 and Tornado

Among them, the Royal Australian Air Force, withi its F-18s and E-7, as well as the Royal Air Force with the Tornado GR4s from 9 Sqn at Marham, one E-3D Sentry from 8 Sqn at RAF Waddington and Eurofighter Typhoons FGR4s  from 6 Squadron based at RAF Leuchars that will operate in the swing role.

Typhoon FGR4

Image credit: U.S. Air Force / RAF Crown Copyright


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Experience the thrills of flying backseat in the RAF’s Typhoon jet

Here’s another cool video.

It was taken from the backseat of a two-seater Typhoon multirole jet fighter of the 29 Sqn of the Royal Air Force from RAF Coningsby involved in an ultra-low level mission over the stunning scenery of the Lake District and the Welsh valleys.

This video, that is particularly interesting because it is commented “live” by the pilot Flight Lieutenant Jamie Norris, 2013 Royal Air Force Typhoon Display Pilot, is currently showing at the London Science Museum.



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Not very stealthy: first image of F-35C carrying full load of weapons (externally)

On Jan. 13, RAF Squadron Ldr. Andy Edgell flew first F-35C, the U.S. Navy’s carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, with external GBU-12s, AIM-9Xs air-to-air missiles and the centerline gun pod.

Obviously, a radar-evading plane loses some of its stealthiness with such an external payload…

Image credit: Andy Wolfe via Lockheed Martin


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New photos show Eurofighter Typhoon with Storm Shadow cruise missiles

Started on Nov. 27 at Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, flying activity aimed at integrating the MBDA Storm Shadow missile, a 1.300 kg standoff weapon (over 5-mt long), onto Eurofighter Typhoon multi-/swing role aircraft continues.

The Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) Typhoon, updated to the Phase 1 Enhancement standard, carrying two stealthy, long-range precision Storm Shadow missiles was spotted at Deci airbase in the last weeks.

The photographs in this post, taken by The Aviationist contributor Gian Luca Onnis, provide a closer look at the Typhoon configuration, featuring two AIM-9L Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAMs along with the Storm Shadows.

Typhoon SS

Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis


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