As reported by insideMoray earlier this week a third Typhoon Squadron will be established at RAF Lossiemouth in January – several months ahead of schedule.
However, the reality is that preparations for the new arrivals have been going on for some time, with advance elements of No.II(AC) Sqn having arrived in Moray months ago.
So who are No.11(AC) Sqn? Mystical RAF history sees use of Roman numerals for the number ‘2’ whilst the AC stands for ‘Army Co-operation’, a throwback to when it formed as part of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912.
The unit identity, colloquially referred to as a squadron ‘numberplate’, is currently carried by a Tornado GR.4/GR.4A squadron based at RAF Marham, Norfolk.
In recent years, RAF top brass have made it policy to preserve the identities of its senior units so, with the demise of Tornado operations in the next few years, the decision was made some months ago that the II(AC) Sqn identity would come to Moray, joining fellow Typhoon squadrons No.1(Fighter) and No.6 Sqn.
These plans were fine until, following the need to deploy Tornados to Cyprus under Operation SHADER for attacks against Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria and Iraq, it was decided to extend the old II(AC) Sqn beyond the planned disbandment date of 31 March 2015.
This brought about a quandary over the planned switch of the numberplate, badge and mess silverware to the new Typhoon unit.
Last week, the RAF finally announced its decision and decided to proceed with the switch albeit nearly three months ahead of schedule, whilst the Tornado incarnation of II(AC) Sqn would be designated No.XII(Bomber) Sqn – that is ’12’ by the way!
For those with not-so-rusty memories, No.XII(B) Sqn last served as a Tornado unit at Lossiemouth until March of this year before standing down as Tornado units were cut.
An advance cadre of engineering and support personnel for the new Typhoon unit arrived at Lossiemouth in Spring 2014, followed by their first aircraft and pilot in September. During the build-up to becoming a fully fledged unit, they have been working alongside 6 Sqn in order to hone their skills in flying and supporting such a complex and capable aircraft.
What is interesting is the rush to service for Lossie’s new Typhoon unit. Earlier this week, insideMoray described that 1(F) Sqn would take its Typhoons to the USA in January for one of the regular US Air Force-sponsored RED FLAG exercises in Nevada.
Normally this would leave 6 Sqn to cover the UK’s northern Quick Reaction Alert (Intercept) commitment alongside their normal training, but maybe the tempo of recent QRA launches against Russian aircraft probing the UK’s airspace coupled with the fact that the Typhoon force is at the start of becoming a truly swing-role (i.e. fighter and bomber) platform means the additional deployment of people power and ‘planes is needed sooner rather than later to meet ‘fit for purpose’ training timescales.
So, we welcome II(AC) Sqn to the Lossie family. No doubt harmless rivalries between the squadrons will develop…or re-ignite. No.II(AC) Sqn were always happy to point out that when they formed in Royal Flying Corps days over 102 years ago, they flew ‘real aeroplanes’ and not airships as 1 Sqn (no ‘F’ for fighter then!) first operated!