No.15 Squadron was formed as a training unit at Farnborough on March 1, 1915 – now 100 years later the modern-day incarnation, XV(Reserve) Squadron, have kicked off a year of celebrations.
The use of Roman numerals became common in several of the RAF’s most senior squadrons and has been in constant use since 1970 when the unit reformed as part of RAF Germany, flying Buccaneer bombers at RAF Laarbruch.
Moving to the then-new Tornado GR.1 in 1983, the squadron remained at the frontline of the Cold War with tasking to drop free-fall WE177 nuclear bombs on Soviet Bloc targets. XV Squadron crews served with distinction as part of the Tornado force deployed to the Middle East for Operation Granby, the UK’s contribution to the liberation of Kuwait in 1991.
It was not long after their return to Laarbruch that ‘Options for Change’ was enacted by the MoD, with a large number of units and personnel being cut.
To preserve history, some squadron number plates were assigned to training units, becoming reserve squadrons which would technically see the instructors crews and ground support personnel having a war time identity alongside their day-to-day training commitments.
The Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit, based at Honington in Suffolk, already had the shadow identity of 45(Reserve) Squadron but it was decided to assign that of XV(R) as the more senior unit.
That change took place in 1992, and in 1994 made the move to Lossiemouth. Although the Tornado GR.4 fleet has been very much reduced in recent years, XV(R) Squadron continues to train crews ahead of assignment to the frontline squadrons based at Marham, Norfolk and will continue to do so for the next few years.
Families, friends and colleagues joined the head of the Royal Air Force’s combat fast jet fleet at the base as Wing Commander Jon Nixon led his squadron on to the parade. Air Vice Marshal Gary Waterfall took the salute during what was also RAF Lossiemouth’s annual formal inspection.
The parade also offered a first opportunity to view the specially designed decal on the tail of one of the squadron’s Tornado GR4’s celebrating the Squadron Centenary.
Happy birthday, XV!