Anyone complaining about washing their car this summer should spare a thought for ground support crews at RAF Lossiemouth as they battle to keep the base’s Typhoon fleet spick and span.
At a cost of around £110million each with each hour in the air coming in at around £3875, the jets are a little more expensive than your average family car.
And packed as they are with expensive electronics one slip during cleaning operations could cost the service a lifetimes pay for the average airman or woman responsible for removing dirt from its sleek bodywork.
However, the Moray base revealed this week that help is at hand in the form of an industrial-standard jet wash rig recently obtained by the base.
Sergeant Julie Rowland explained: “This was no small project to take on. We have been washing Tornado aircraft at Lossiemouth for some time but Typhoon is different due to the composite construction of the aircraft.”
Extensive consultation on various system was undertaken, with Sgt Rowland eventually identified a possible solution – the Rhino Wash Rig.
Authorisation was quickly sought and granted to purchase the system for both Tornado and Typhoon aircraft on the base.
Operating the new system falls to a civilian wash team who had to undergo a training programme before the new kit was allowed anywhere near their expensive charges.
Hugh Brannigan is a member of the base civilian staff charged with cleaning the Typhoon fleet. He said: “It’s not as simple as washing your car at home. These jets are worth millions and have some pretty sophisticated kit on them, not to mention their size!”
Whilst waiting for the rig to be installed, trials were performed with Typhoon aircraft to check the compatibility of existing work platforms. These platforms would then be used by the wash team to access every part of the aircraft.
And the result was that this month the first Typhoon took off shining brightly after being cleaned form tip to toe – now every aircraft taking off from the base will look that little bit better for admiring onlookers.