RAF Lossiemouth officially entered a new era in its illustrious history on Friday when the first squadron of Typhoon fighters arrived at the Moray base.
Nine aircraft from 6 Squadron flew over the town in their trademark ‘6’ formation in tribute to the community that they now see as their own, before landing at the base to be formally welcomed by station commander Mark Chappell.
“This marks the start of the deployments from RAF Leuchars to Lossiemouth,” Group Captain Chappell said, adding: “No. 1 Squadron will follow in the autumn and eventually 2 Squadron will move up from RAF Marham by the early part of next year.
“It is definitely a big day in the history of RAF Lossiemouth and a significant step to what primarily will be the transfer of responsibilities for the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) from Leuchars to Lossiemouth.
“But I think this is tangible evidence of the RAF’s commitment to the local area, indeed with this squadron moving up here we will see a strong and growing footprint in the local community for years to come if not decades to come.”
The squadron’s arrival attracted hundreds of air enthusiasts and curious locals to the perimeter fence at Lossiemouth, where a multi-million pound investment has been made in preparing the base for the new arrivals.
Eleven Typhoons from 6 Squadron arrived into total – one was left behind for a few days at Leuchars as it was deemed unserviceable – with the squadron led into their new base by Wing Commander Mike Baulkwill.
He said: “I knew before I took command just under two years ago of 6 Squadron that we would be moving to Lossiemouth.
“We have seen over the last two years that people have accepted the move, we are the air force and we move because that is what we are paid to do.
“It has not been a massive impact for us and actually I prefer it – it is really nice to be here, we’ve had a great time at Leuchars and we are going to have a great time here as well.”
The squadron commanding officer said people used to Lossiemouth’s Tornado jets for several years will see some differences with the new aircraft: “QRA means we are ready to go at any time, what people will see is two aircraft are on alert 24/7 and 365 days.
“People will see that our aircraft have two roles, air to air as well as air to surface, we will be flying in different areas and we do less low flying because we generally operate at height.
“Local people will notice some differences with this aircraft – we generally don’t use after-burners although sometimes we do but generally we don’t use them because we don’t need to as there is a lot of thrust in the aircraft.”
Above all the wing commander stressed the welcome the squadron and their support staff have received from locally: “Everybody has pretty much moved now into married quarters and rental accommodation so the whole move has been really well dealt with.
“Locally we have been fully accepted by the schools and local people already – it is my first day here but it is really exciting for us.”