THE OFFICER COMMANDING the RAF Lossiemouth Typhoon force currently deployed in operations over Syria and Iraq has praised the “incredible feat” achieved in their first three months.
Air Commodore Ian Duguid visited the Lossiemouth detachment at RAF Akrotiri to mark the three months since a vote in the UK Parliament cleared the way for the detachment from Moray to fly to Cyprus in December.
His visit came as the two additional Tornado GR4’s that were also deployed in December returned to the UK – however, there are no indications that the Typhoons will be following them home just yet.
Speaking to the Forces TV network, the Air Commodore said that since deploying to RAF Akrotiri the number of missions against Daesh had almost doubled – and that the Typhoon offered the mission a much greater choice and flexibility for operational commanders.
He pointed out that the Typhoon Mark II carried the most up to date operational software that allowed the use of precision weapons that “reduce the risk of collateral damage and ensure it is hitting the right targets”.
He added: “It is also important to note that the Typhoon has an air-to-air fighter role as well, so it has a very advanced self defence system and radar that allows it to see much more of what is going on in the airspace around it.”
Asked if there was particular difficulties being faced by the airmen and their supporting ground crews, Air Commodore Duguid said: “This is exactly what they have been trained for both at home and in exercises overseas, so it is what they expected.
“It is definitely a demanding operation, but it is what my pilots and the ground crew here have been trained for. We have also had a lot of support from the existing infrastructure here [in Cyprus] and the squadrons already resident. The pilots are doing an excellent job as are the entire squadron supporting them.”
Recalling that the crews marked their arrival by going on a major mission just hours after their arrival from Moray, the Air Commodore said: “It is important to say that the first mission the Typhoons undertook here on the oilfields at Omar was very complex – it was undertaken within 12 hours of the aircraft arriving here.
“The pilots had not flown in that area of operations before so all credit to them it was a challenging mission but was fully executed and very effective.
“I have been very clear to them that the rest of the RAF and the rest of the UK are very proud of them in their contribution in the fight against Daesh, it is an incredible feat they have achieved in deploying so quickly and getting the operation up and running.
“Ultimately I’ve been saying to them – great job, keep up the good work and recognise the fact that all of the UK are behind them in this operation.”