Squadron Service - Royal Air Force

Squadron Base Reformed Operational
1 (Fighter) (assigned aircraft) Leuchars15 Sep 2012
3 (Fighter) (assigned aircraft) Coningsby31 Mar 200629 Jun 2007
6 (assigned aircraft) Leuchars06 Sep 2010
11 (Fighter) (assigned aircraft)Coningsby29 Mar 2007
17 (Reserve) (assigned aircraft)Coningsby19 May 2005n/a
29 (Reserve) (assigned aircraft)Coningsby04 Nov 2005n/a
1435 Flight (assigned aircraft)Mount Pleasant--

The original plan was to equip seven ex-Jaguar and Tornado F.3 squadrons and an OCU with the Typhoon, accounting for 137 of the 232 aircraft on order. This was made up of 105 squadron aircraft, an OCU with 24 aircraft, an OEU with 4 aircraft, and four aircraft in the Falklands. Nine further aircraft were to have been categorised as in-use reserves, while the remaining 84 would have been rotated in and out of service to balance flying hours across the whole fleet and thus enable the aircraft to meet its scheduled out-of-service date. They would also have covered attrition losses.

The RAF announced on December 14th 1999 that Typhoons were to be based at RAF Coningsby, RAF Leeming and RAF Leuchars. The first 13 aircraft, however, were to be delivered to the RAF at BAE Systems/Warton (under an arrangement known as "Case White"). The RAF's first sixteen pilots and 248 groundcrew would convert to the type over an 18 month period.

On May 24th 2002 the UK MoD announced a revised timetable for the introduction of the Typhoon into RAF service. The first aircraft wouldn't be accepted until the end of 2002, rather than June as originally planned. The In Service Date of January 2005, and the Operational Employment Date of January 1st 2006 were still expected to be met.

At Farnborough International 2002, Wing Commander David 'Charlie' Chan was named as the commanding officer of the Typhoon OEU (17 Squadron). The aircraft was also officially named "Typhoon" by the RAF.

On December 5th 2002 the UK MoD announced a furthur delay in delivery of Typhoons to the RAF, this time to June 2003. According to the MoD, the delay was caused because the process of gathering flight safety and performance data had taken longer than expected. BAE insiders said that the aircraft were ready to go, but the MoD was not taking any action to move them across to the RAF because minute details of the contract had not been met.

The first British-built production Typhoon, BT001 (serial ZJ800), piloted by Derek Reeh, BAE Systems Director of Flight Operations and Archie Neill, BAE Systems pilot and Typhoon Entry into Service Manager, took off from the company's site at Warton, Lancs, for a successful 21 minute flight at 16:37 GMT on February 14th 2003. Initially BT001 deployed to Boscombe Down where it undertook EMC testing as part of the Type Acceptance process for the Eurofighter Typhoon Weapon System.

Following the successful completion of international Type Acceptance, Typhoon T.1, ZJ803/BT004, carrying No 17(R) Squadron markings, was ceremonially handed over to the UK MoD at BAE Systems/Warton on June 30th 2003. In RAF service single-seater aircraft are designated Typhoon F.2; two-seaters are T.1 or T.1A depending on the batch number.

The Typhoon made its public debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2003 at RAF Fairford, when aircraft ZJ802, marked as AB from No 17(R) squadron, appeared in the static park. In addition, Alenia test pilot Maurizio Cheli flew a spirited display in ZJ699.

The handover of the first Typhoon to No 17(R) Squadron had been scheduled for October 17th 2003, but was delayed following the grounding of the aircraft on October 9th owing to problems with the braking system.

Number 17(R) Squadron began Typhoon operations in January 2004, operating under "Case White" at Warton. The squadron's CO, Wg Cdr David Chan, became the first RAF pilot to solo on the Typhoon on February 9th 2004.

Thursday February 19th 2004 marked the day when the undisputed king of air superiority had to surrender its thirty-year crown to a newcomer. It happened in the skies over the English Lake District. Two Eurofighter Typhoon twin-seaters were on the first RAF formation training flight from Warton when they were "bounced" from the eight o’clock by a pair of F-15E Eagles belonging to the USAFE’s 48th TFW, probably the most formidable and experienced combat unit in the European theatre.

The Typhoon crews did not seem to be intimidated and with two rapid counters ended up on the F-15s' tail, comfortably gunning the trailing one, who was in full afterburner, wings rocking and wondering what had happened.

It is fair to expect that the most surprised by this first encounter result would be the F-15 crews, used to dominating the skies since the mid-seventies and with an exchange ratio record of 101 wins to zero losses. It is understandable if the RAF rookies also showed their surprise at the outcome, as one does not expect to win an air engagement on the first training sortie with a brand new machine against one of the best combat units in the world, riding what up to now has been the best fighter in history.

Typhoon T.1 ZJ803/AA from No 17(R) Squadron arrived at RAF Coningsby for a week-long series of trials on March 30th 2004.

On May 13th 2004 the Typhoon received its RAF Release to Service (RTS), removing the Case White operating restrictions under which it was previously authorised to fly. The RTS document was prepared by the Typhoon Initial Production Team (IPT), which took data from the RTS recommnedations report from QinetiQ.

The QinetiQ report detailed a range of advice, but most of the recommendations did not have a significant impact on the RTS. However three were judged by QinetiQ to be significant to aircraft safety, although only one of these was actually included in the final RTS.

The RTS was signed by the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff and became effective immediately. Typhoon flying was no longer restricted to named pilots, and ACM Sir Jock Stirrup, CAS, flew the aircraft the following day.

The RTS applied to the first ten twin-seat aircraft from Batch 1 (BT001 to BT011), but excluded BT005 which had a production-standard avionics architecture. The aircraft was now able to operate in the roles of Service Instructor Pilot Training, Operational Test and Evaluation and OCU course syllabus validation.

Between June 2nd and 9th 2004 five or six Singaporean AF pilots visited BAE Systems/Warton in order to evaluate the Typhoon T.1 in RAF service. Six sorties were flown, with BAE Systems pilots at the controls.

On June 27th 2004 one 17(R) aircraft and one 29(R) squadron aircraft, ZJ805/AD and ZJ807/BF (flown by No 17(R) squadron crews) departed from BAE Systems Warton for Cyprus, bound for Singapore, where the aircraft has been selected for the final phase of the country’s Next Fighter Replacement program. The aircraft, with tanker support, stopped at Cyprus, Abu Dhabi and Sri Lanka en route to Singapore. Apparently ZJ805 was replaced by ZJ806/BE at RAF Akrotiri.

Whilst Typhoon was deployed to Singapore for an evaluation as part of the Next Fighter Replacement program, the requirement coincided with a need to test a number of elements of Typhoon. So a deployment to Singapore fulfils a number of objectives including initial operational trials of Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR), testing the supportability of the aircraft and evaluating its performance in a hot and humid environment. All three aircraft returned to the UK on August 2nd 2004.

A Typhoon from No 17(R) squadron visited RAF Valley on October 27th/28th 2004. Prior to its landing, it gave a "breathtaking display of its power and agility", hinting at the capability that the RAF is looking forward to receiving as the aircraft comes into service over the next few years.

The visit was part of a Roadshow to familiarise current and future combat pilots of the RAF with the technology and capabilities of this vital future link in the defence capabilities of the United Kingdom and NATO. As RAF Valley trains all the future combat pilots for the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, the visit is seen as a vital step in introducing the aircraft into service.

In December 2004 the RAF's first operational Typhoon squadrons were to be No 3(F), (then a Harrier unit at Cottesmore), and No XI(F) (then a Tornado F.3 unit at Leeming) at RAF Coningsby. They will be followed by No 6 Squadron (then flying Jaguars at Coltishall), which is scheduled to be the first Typhoon unit at RAF Leuchars from 2008. RAF Leeming is no longer planned as a Typhoon station.

On April 1st 2005 No 17(R) squadron left BAE Systems/Warton for its new home at RAF Coningsby.

The squadron is responsible for the Operational Test and Evaluation of the RAF's newest combat aircraft. Its CO was Wing Cdr Jon Hitchcock, who flew aircraft ZJ913 this morning - which also happens to be the first production standard single-seat Typhoon delivered to the RAF.

"Case White" was seen as a resounding success. Typhoon outperformed the highest expectations of reliability and serviceability, with the team outflying even the stretch target by as much as 15%. More than 1300 flying hours were completed, with the contracted 1040 sorties being achieved eight weeks ahead of schedule.

On May 19th 2005 Number 17 (Reserve) Squadron was officially reformed in a ceremony at RAF Coningsby, under its new Commanding Officer Wing Commander Jon Hitchcock.

Although 17(R) had been in existence since 2003, it was in effect a squadron designate while at Warton during 'Case White'. Now it has arrived at Coningsby, the role of the squadron is to pave the way for Typhoon air-to-air operational status and initial air-to-ground capability as the Typhoon Operational Evaluation Unit.

On June 19th 2005 Typhoon T.1s ZJ807/BF and ZJ809/BH appeared at the Kemble Air Day. This was the first time that the aircraft had operated out of a non-military airfield.

On July 1st 2005 Number 29(R) Squadron, under the command of Wing Commander Al Mackay, left Warton and relocated to RAF Coningsby on the successful completion of the "Case "White" Entry Into Service programme.

29(R) squadron is the Typhoon Operational Conversion Unit, responsible for training pilots to fly and fight the Typhoon.

As of July 7th 2005 the RAF Typhoon force had accumulated a total of 1270 sorties for 1529 flying hours.

On July 15th 2005 the pilot of Typhoon T.1 ZJ809, Sqn Ldr Matt Elliott, came within seconds of crashing the aircraft while practicing his display routine at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. The pilot later admitted to making a mistake during the routine following a run in to the vector roll and slow pass by bleeding off too much speed. In order to recover the situation he applied full power at an altitude of about 50 feet, and came within about 20 feet of the ground before pulling out. As he had breached display minima by a significant margin he was ordered to abort, whereupon he climbed to around 1000 feet and flew circuits for 5 minutes before landing.

Later he flew a slightly altered display sequence, which had to gain approval right up the chain of command, to allow him to change the already approved Typhoon display for 2005. This was approved and the aircraft was displayed without incident on both show days.

On July 19th 2005 two pilots from the Belgian F-16 OCU based at Kleine Brogel deployed to RAF Coningsby with aircraft FB-10 to exercise with the Typhoon T.1s from No 29(R) Squadron. Some challenging dissimilar air combat training sorties (1v1) were flown over the North Sea.

On November 4th 2005 No 29 ("Triplex") Squadron officially reformed at RAF Coningsby.

On January 16th 2006 the crew of ZJ810/BI had to perform an emergency landing at RAF Coningsby after the aircraft's nose landing gear failed to deploy. The pilot held the aircraft's nose up until aerodynamically braking and the brake chute slowed it down sufficiently to allow the nose to make contact with the runway. Some photos of this incident have come my way:

In a ceremony held at RAF Cottesmore on March 31st 2006 the RAF's first operational Typhoon squadron, No 3 (Fighter), was officially re-formed after having previously operated the Harrier GR.7.

The first two Typhoons to be taken on strength by 3(F) squadron were coded QO-C (ZJ922) and QO-L (ZJ918). The QO- code was previously applied to the Hawker Typhoons operated by the squadron in WW2. QO-C is the code of the squadron commander, and QO-L the code of the squadron's XO. These two aircraft are to Tranche 1, Block 2, upgrade B standard with the improved defensive aids suite.

3(F) squadron was due to become operational in July, when it will take over southern QRA duties from the Tornado F.3.

In June 2006 five RAF Typhoons took part in a major Royal Air Force exercise for the first time. Conducted from RAF Leuchars in Scotland over two weeks and involving a composite air wing of around 50 fixed-wing aircraft, the operational phase of the biannual Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor (CQWI) course was intended to test the tactical and procedural capabilities of aircrews on multiple platform types. Four Typhoons from Number 17 Squadron and one aircraft from Number 29 Squadron participated in the course.

The Typhoon is said to have performed well during its debut exercise, operating alongside Tornado GR.4 ground-attack aircraft, Tornado F.3 fighters and Hawks simulating other strike assets.

According to the "Daily Telegraph" on October 3rd 2006, the RAF has been forced into an "embarrassing U-turn" on its policy of not allowing Typhoon pilots to fire the aircraft's 27mm Mauser cannon. The service has decided to issue ammunition to future Typhoon squadrons and train pilots in using the cannon, reversing its [really the Treasury's] cost-cutting edict. The decision follows experience in Afghanistan which shows that guns are still one of the most effective weapons when supporting ground troops.

The 100th production Typhoon was handed over to the RAF at BAE Systems/Warton on September 29th 2006. Aircraft BS022 was the 35th aircraft delivered to the RAF. It was delivered to Coningsby on October 9th by Group Captain Bob Judson, the Station Commander. It was coded 'DA' and assigned to Number 11 (Fighter) squadron.

On November 3rd a Typhoon F.2 9-ship (from 29(R), 17(R) and 3(F) Squadrons) flew over RAF Coningsby. The 'Diamond Nine' formation came about as the station and crews prepared for this year's Remembrance Day and New Zealand Memorial flypasts. Four aircraft and a spare for the Remembrance Day flypast as well as three plus a spare for the New Zealand Memorial Flypast, formed up to create the first Typhoon Diamond Nine.

On November 11th 2006 29(R) Squadron performed the Remembrance Day flypast over London at 11:00. Three T.1s (ZJ812/BK 'Triplex 1', ZJ813/BL 'Triplex 2' and ZJ808/BG 'Triplex 4') and a singleton F.2 (ZJ920/BX 'Triplex 3') flew over central London before returning to Coningsby.

On the same day three Typhoon F.2s from No 3(F) Squadron (ZJ926/QO-Y 'Kiwi 1', ZJ919/QO-W 'Kiwi 2' and ZJ925/QO-R 'Kiwi 3') accompanied a RNZAF Boeing 757 for a flypast to mark the inauguration of the New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park Corner.

On February 3rd 2007 Typhoon F.2s ZJ927/AG and ZJ928/AF from No 17(R) Squadron departed Coningsby via Lajes for Nellis AFB. This was for a 6-week "Highrider" deployment, which would involve flying with F-15s and F-16s in combined air operation scenarios.

During the period February 26th to March 2nd 2007 four AIM-132 ASRAAM missiles were successfully launched by Typhoon F.2s from No 3(F) Squadron at the Aberporth weapons range in Cardigan Bay. The Typhoons involved all operated from their home base at Coningsby, flying to Wales to launch their missiles at flare packs being towed by Mirach target drones over the sea.

These successful firings marked a further step towards Typhoon’s planned take over of the southern element of the United Kingdom’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) air defence stance.

On March 29th 2007 Number XI(Fighter) Squadron officially "stood up" in a ceremony at RAF Coningsby. No XI(F) Squadron is tasked to lead development of the Typhoon’s air-to-ground capability. All squadron pilots should be qualified in both air-to-air and air-to-ground roles by July 2008.

The Typhoon's first frontline duty will be to defend the airspace of the southern UK beginning on June 29th 2007, when 3 Squadron will begin a phased replacement of Coningsby-based Tornado F.3 fighters. Tasked since its formation with being the development lead for air defence operations, the unit will initially deliver quick reaction alert (QRA) cover on an alternating basis with the Tornado force, with each on duty for around a month at a time. Pilots from across the Typhoon force will share this responsibility. The Typhoon F.2s assigned to the QRA role will be armed with Raytheon AIM-120C5 AMRAAM and MBDA ASRAAM air-to-air missiles.

By the end of March 2007, RAF aircraft had accumulated 8118 flying hours.

Coningsby's initial QRA milestone will be followed from January 1st 2008 by the Typhoon force's ability to conduct air defence duties while assigned overseas. In an early test of this deployed capability, on April 18th 2007 seven aircraft from No 3 Squadron deployed on exercise Lone Eider to Moron airbase near Seville to operate with the Typhoons of 111 Escuadron of the Spanish Air Force. Involved were: ZJ814/QO-Z, ZJ916/QO-U, ZJ917/QO-G, ZJ918/QO-L, ZJ922/QO-C, ZJ926/QO-Y and ZJ934/QO-T.

RAF Typhoons took part in air combat missions before engaging in larger combined air operations with eight Typhoons flying against 12-16 Spanish AF Mirage F.1s and F-18s. 75 sorties were flown in total.

The squadron also flew alongside the Spanish Air Force in support of Exercise Tapon 07, an air and maritime exercise designed to train staff and maritime units in the conduct of crisis response operations. The focus was on co-operation with naval forces in the Gibraltar Strait, Gulf of Cadiz and Alboran Sea.

The squadron returned to the UK on April 27th 2007.

Number 6 Squadron is to become the UK's fifth Typhoon unit, and the first to receive Tranche 2 production aircraft. Scheduled for delivery from mid-2008, the first RAF example is currently in final assembly at BAE Systems/Warton The new squadron will later move to RAF Leuchars in Scotland, where it is initially expected to provide QRA cover for the northern UK, again replacing Tornado F.3s.

With Typhoon's planned deployed multi-role operational employment date of July 1st 2008, and Kandahar airfield eyed as a potential destination, 11 Squadron has been tasked with preparing its pilots for air-to-air and air-to-surface missions.

By the end of April 2007 the UK had received 42 of the 144 Typhoons ordered for the RAF across the two contracted production phases, at an average cost of £66.7 million. By late March 2007 more than 8000 flying hours in over 7000 sorties had been logged. On average about 20 hours per month per aircraft are being flown, but some have exceeded the 40 hour mark. This was a better level of serviceability than current RAF fighter types.

On May 2nd 2007 Italian AF Typhoons MM7281/4-14 and MM7277/4-1 from 4 Stormo arrived at Coningsby to operate with No 11 Squadron.

On June 29th 2007 RAF Typhoons assumed responsibility for the southern element of the United Kingdom’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) air defence capability. No 3(F) Squadron at RAF Coningsby has two aircraft at constant readiness to respond to any aircraft acting suspiciously or intruding illegally into UK air space.

Exercise Indradhanush 2007, which started at RAF Waddington on July 2nd 2007 and involved six Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighters, gave RAF Typhoon pilots the chance to engage in air combat manoeuvres with a non-RAF/NATO type for the first time. Officially, there were no one-on-one encounters, but it appears that one did occur, in which the Su-30s were out-flown by the Typhoon pilots. (There is also a rumour that F-22s were outflown by Typhoons in 1v1 engagements in 2005!)

Typhoon picked up two major awards at the Royal International Air Tattoo on July 15th 2007. Flt Lt Jim Walls, flying a Typhoon F.2 from 29(R) Squadron was presented with the "Sir Douglas Bader Trophy" for the best individual flying demonstration, and the "As The Crow Flies Trophy" from the Friends of RIAT.

On July 19th 2007 a three-ship formation of Typhoons overflew the Sunset Ceremony and the ceremonial lowering of the RAF Ensign for the last time at RAF Bentley Priory. They were reported to be ZJ814/QO-Z ZJ916/QO-U and ZJ926/QO-Y.

On August 6th 2007 the first two Block 5 Typhoon F.2s were delivered to No XI Squadron. One aircraft came from the "Retrofit 2" upgrade programme, and the other (ZJ933) was from the production programme. The Block 5 standard gives Typhoon full air-to-air and initial air-to-ground capability with full carefree handling. The aircraft is cleared for the 9g envelope as intended, with additional features such as sensor fusion; full direct voice input; enhanced global positioning system; defensive aids sub-system countermeasures including automatic chaff and flare dispensers; radar air-to-surface modes including ground mapping; and initial Forward Looking Infra-Red.

On August 17th 2007 two Typhoons, one from No 3(F) squadron and ZJ932/DB from No XI squadron, were scrambled to intercept a Russian Tu-95 "Bear-H" over the north Atlantic. The "Bear" turned back before reaching UK airspace.

No. 17(R) Squadron sent Typhoons ZJ927/AG and ZJ928/AF to China Lake on September 3rd 2007 for trials work. They returned to Coningsby on October 18th.

Two Typhoons from No 11 Squadron (although one was ZJ929/QO-A from No 3 Squadron) arrived at Ostrava airport in the Czech Republic on September 14th 2007 to take part in the country's NATO Day celebrations over the following two days.

Also on September 14th eight RAF Typhoon F.2s were recorded at RAF Fairford; they were deployed to an "austere" base as part of exercise "Sky Lance 07". The aircraft involved were ZJ910/BV, ZJ911/BZ, ZJ916/QO-U, ZJ919/DC, ZJ922/QO-C, ZJ923/QO-E, ZJ924/DD and ZJ926/QO-Y. They were tasked with Offensive Counter Air (air defence) for the Blue force.

On September 23rd the following were recorded: ZJ910/BV, ZJ911/BZ, ZJ916/QO-U, ZJ919/DC, ZJ922/QO-C, ZJ923/QO-E, ZJ924/DD, ZJ936/QO-S and ZJ937/QO-W.

On September 24th 2007 No 17(R) squadron began a a period of heavy weapon load trials on the Block 5 Typhoon. F.2 ZJ930/AA was loaded with six Paveway II LGBs, four AIM-120 AMRAAAM and two ASRAAM air-to-air missiles, plus an underfuselage fuel tank. Even with about 9000lb on board the aircraft only needed 2800ft of runway to get airborne with full afterburner, and then climbed to 40000ft on dry power. It would have taken three Jaguars to carry the same amount of weaponry.

On October 5th 2007 two Typhoons left RAF Coningsby for Luxembourg: ZJ916/QO-U and ZJ809/BH. The purpose of their visit was not clear.

On November 15th 2007 Typhoon F.2 ZJ939/DXI assigned to No XI squadron dropped the first bomb by an in-service RAF Typhoon (following the release-to-service for laser-guided bombs the previous day). The weapon, a 1000lb Paveway 2 laser guided bomb with an inert warhead, was released at an altitude of 5000 ft and was guided onto its target by a LITENING III targetting pod fitted to the BAE Systems trials aircraft ZJ804. The bomb scored a DH on the barge target moored 20 miles out to sea in Cardigan Bay. The pilot of ZJ804 was from the Typhoon OEU (No 17(Reserve) Squadron. ZJ939 flew a 700nm round trip from RAF Kinloss to release the weapon.

In mid-November 2007 eight Typhoons were hosted at RAF Kinloss to participate in the latest Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor (CQWI) course (see above).

Six Typhoons arrived at Akrotiri on November 21st 2007 on deployment "Tempest Trail". They were ZJ922/QO-C, ZJ926/QO-Y, ZJ918/QO-L, ZJ911/BZ, ZJ910/BV and ZJ914/DE. Support was provided by two VC.10 C.1Ks. They departed for Al Dhafra air base in the UAE on 22nd November.

On November 23rd 2007 the RAF announced that Block 5 (and higher) Typhoons are designated T.3 and FGR.4 for the two-seat and single-seat versions respectively.

On January 14th 2008 a 2-seat RAF Typhoon suffered a "system failure" at 16:06 local time while flying over Shropshire. It was flying at 40000ft and had to make a rapid descent to 10000ft, during which it broke the sound barrier. The aircraft landed back at Coningsby at 16:45. The fault was reported to be with the oxygen system, hence the need to make an emergency descent.

In March 2008 a two-seat Typhoon came within 240 feet of colliding with a civilian aircraft. The Typhoon was diving on a "high angle strafe" at an altitude of 8000ft over the Donna Nook range when it shot past an HS125 which was coming in to land at Humberside airport. The UK Airprox Board, which investigates near-misses between aircraft, graded the incident as Category A, meaning "an actual risk of collision existed".

In Late March 2008 No 17(R) squadron deployed to NAS China Lake to conduct an intensive period of air-to-surface trials, including releases of Enhanced Paveway II and freefall 'dumb' bombs, as well as strafing with the 27mm cannon.

On April 1st 2008, the 90th birthday of the Royal Air Force, four Typhoons accompanied the Red Arrows in a flypast over London. They were ZJ923/QO-E, ZJ939/DXI, ZJ910/BV and ZJ927/AG. Later in the day nine Typhoons flew over the RAF Museum at Hendon. They were ZJ936/Q-OS, ZJ927/AG, ZJ923/Q-OE, ZJ939/DXI, ZJ935/DJ, ZJ931/DA, ZJ910/BV, ZJ919/DC and ZJ911/BZ. Airspares were ZJ814/Q-OZ and ZJ933/DF.

On April 1st 2008 the RAF's Typhoons took over permanent defence of the United Kingdom's southern airspace. Since June 2007 the type had been sharing Quick Reaction Alert (Southern) (QRA(S)) cover with Tornado F.3s from Leeming and Leuchars. QRA defence of the UK's northern airspace continues to be provided by the Tornado F3s of 43(F) and 111(F) Squadrons at Leuchars.

Departing Coningsby on April 21st 2008 to Davis Monthan AFB via Lajes were the following 11 Squadron Typhoon FGR.4s: ZJ939/DXI, ZJ927/AG (F.2), ZJ935/DJ, ZJ942/DH, ZJ941/DG, ZJ912/AB, ZJ933/DF. They were to take part in exercise "Torpedo Focus" at DM between April 25th and May 18th before relocating to Nellis for Green Flag between May 23rd and June 6th. The 17(R) squadron aircraft already at China Lake joined both exercises.

On April 23rd 2008 Typhoon FGR.4 ZJ943 made a wheels-up landing at China Lake, following a mission described by the RAF as "routine trials work dropping laser-guided bombs". The pilot was unhurt but the aircraft was declared as Cat 4/5.

While taking part in exercise Green Flag 08-07, from May 23rd to June 6th 2008, seven Typhoon pilots from XI Squadron dropped munitions and fired their cannons with such precision that they were declared combat ready three weeks earlier than the target date of July 1st. The squadron dropped a total of 67 munitions, comprising 43 Paveway IIs, eight enhanced Paveway IIIs and 16 1,000 lb free fall weapons.

On July 26th 2008 it was reported that Flight Lieutenant Ben Westoby-Brooks had become the 100th British-trained pilot to fly solo on the Typhoon.

The first production Tranche 2 / Block 8 Typhoon, ZJ947 (BS040) was handed over to the RAF on October 10th 2008.

Thew first two Block 8 Typhoons, ZJ946 and ZJ947, arrived at RAF Coningsby on October 21st 2008. The aircraft will undergo final system checks and modifications before they are released for flight trials. Tranche 2 Typhoons will be based at RAF Leuchars, in Fife from 2010.

Four Typhoons from No 3 squadron had been scheduled to deploy to Keflavik AB in Iceland in early December 2008, but following a political spat between the British and Icelandic governments over the collapse of the Icelandic banking system, the deployment was cancelled.

In June 2009 EJ200 engine EN1030, which was the first to be built to the Full Operational Clearance standard, achieved 1000 flying hours without any unscheduled maintenance. The engine was delivered to the RAF in 2003, and has powered two Typhoons. EN1030 is scheduled to continue flying until 1,200 engine flying hours are achieved, whereupon it will be removed for scheduled maintenance.

On August 27th 2009 a Typhoon came within 400ft of colliding with a DHC-8 airliner over Warton in Lancashire following a poorly- executed level-off by the Typhoon pilot, who exceeded his addigned FL160 altitude. The DHC-8 was at FL170.

ZJ944, ZJ945, ZJ949, ZJ950 and ZK301 departed for the Falkland Islands on September 12th 2009. We subsequently learned that the deployment involved a total of ten support aircraft from four squadrons flying 280 hours supported by 95 personnel in addition to the fighters and their aircrews.

In a two-stage operation the aircraft were trailed by tankers to Ascension Island, using the Canary Islands as a staging post. From Ascension, they were trailed again to the Falkland Islands without any outside assistance. The Typhoons were accompanied by a TriStar aircraft throughout, whereas the other air-to-air assets provided fuel at various stages before returning to Ascension; in all, each Typhoon was required to refuel seven times. The Falkland Islands-based VC10 was on hand to provide a final top-up of fuel if required and to enable the Typhoons to divert to the South American mainland had the weather deteriorated unexpectedly during the nine-and-a-half hour transit.

In addition, Hercules and Nimrod aircraft provided Search and Rescue cover for the long sea transits, and were equipped with survival equipment and spare life rafts that could be dropped to any survivors in the water in the event of an incident that necessitated an ejection.

The extent of the back-up required to ensure a successful mission included:

The Typhoons arrived at Mount Pleasant on September 16th 2009. ZJ945 subsequently returned to Coningsby, leaving ZJ944, ZJ949, ZJ950 and ZK301 down south.

On November 18th 2009 Flt Lt Antony "Parky" Parkinson from No 29(R) squadron became the first pilot in the world to achieve 1000 flying hours in the Typhoon.

An investigation was launched on November 26th 2009 after minor damage was found on a Typhoon and a VC.10, after they had completed an in-flight refuelling sortie near the Falkland Islands.

In early June 2010 two Typhoons and a VC-10 baed on the Falklands had to divert to Punta Arenas in Chile after poor weather closed Mount Pleasant. This required the aircraft to fly over Tierra del Fuego; authorization for this was given by the Argentinian Air Force.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, three Typhoons were given temporary markings in August 2010 to reflect aircraft and personalities of that period. ZJ912 from 17(R) squadron was marked as 'YB-F', ZJ805 from 29(R) squadron was marked as 'S-RO' and ZJ941 from 3(F) squadron was marked as 'QO-J'.

'YB-F' was allocated to the 17 Sqn Hurricane V7408 flown by F/O Count Manfred Beckett Czernin, who shot down 8 German aircraft flying YB-F during the Battle of Britain.

'QO-J' was allocated to the Hurricane flown by PO J. Lonsdale RAFVR during the Battle of Britain

'S-RO' was allocated to Blenheim 1F L6637. On the 18th August 1940 P/O Rhodes and Sgt. Gregory chased a Ju-88 for 35 miles in L6637 before Sgt. Gregory finally shot it down.

On September 6th 2010 the RAF officially 'stood up' Number 6 Squadron at RAF Leuchars. Pilots from the squadron will gradually take on northern QRA responsibilities from the Tornado F.3s of No 111 squadron, before replacing them completely by March 2011.

On 15th September 2010 all non-operational RAF Typhoon flights were suspended because of a possible problem with the aircraft's ejection seat. This action was taken after the crash of a two-seat Eurofighter at the end of August in Spain. While the Spanish pilot escaped successfully using the ejection seat, the parachute had apparently become disconnected from the seat of the Saudi co-pilot, who died.

Following an emergency safety modification, aircraft were cleared to resume flying by September 20th.

In October 2010 the RAF deployed Typhoons from 11 Sqn plus support aircraft to Kalaikunda air base in India to take part in exercise Indradhanush with the Indian AF. The exercise was scheduled from October 18th to November 3rd.

The same squadron then deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE for Exercise Air Khanjar with the UAEAF. Both air forces gained experience in Dissimilar Air Combat Trainings, putting the Typhoon up against the UAE Air ForceÕs F-16 and Mirage 2000 jets as well as taking part in naval exercises over the Persian Gulf. The naval aspect included challenging attack and protection scenarios and involved HMS Cumberland. The exercise ran from November 18th to December 1st 2010.

A 6 Squadron Typhoon carried out its first QRA North launch from RAF Leuchars on January 2nd 2011.

Two Typhoons (FOXTROT 46 & 47) escorted an Etihad A340 into Stansted on January 24th 2010 after an incident on board.

The 906th Expeditionary Air Wing deployed nine Typhoons to Gioia Del Colle in southern Italy on March 20th 2011 as part of the NATO forces implementing UNSCR Resolution 1973 on Libya. Three aircraft flew the first Typhoon combat mission over Libya on March 21st.

An RAF Typhoon carried out the type's first offensive operation over Libya on April 12th 2011, when two Libyan tanks were destroyed by Enhanced Paveway II laser-guided bombs. Preparations for the Typhoon's offensive debut began in earnest on April 10th, when several of the aircraft conducted joint sorties over Libya with Tornado GR.4s.

After six months and one day supporting the UK mission over Libya as part of Operation Ellamy, RAF Typhoons left Gioia del Colle in Italy on September 23rd 2011 and returned home to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

Typhoon missions over Libya had taken place 24 hours a day, seven days a week in all weathers since the operation began in March. Over 3,000 flying hours were clocked up by the aircraft, part of 906 Expeditionary Air Wing.

Air and ground crews from 6 Squadron took part in Exercise Bersama Lima in Malaysia during November 2011. This was the first overseas deployment of Tranche 2 (FGR.4) Typhoons and the first deployment of 6 Squadron since it reformed at RAF Leuchars in September 2010. The 7,000 mile trip from RAF Leuchars to the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth took the pilots four days with stops in Jordan, Oman and Sri Lanka, supported by a VC-10 from 101 Squadron. During the exercise, four Typhoons flew mock combat sorties alongside Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18s, Malaysian AF MiG-29s and F/A-18s, and Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15SGs and F-16s. The Typhoons successfully completed more than 70 sorties during the detachment amounting to 164 flying hours.

Between March 2nd and 5th 2012 two Typhoons and fifteen airmen from No 3 Squadron deployed to the Armée de l'Air base at St Dizier to fly alongside Dassault Rafales operated by Escadron 1/7 "Provence".

Two Typhoons were scrambled at around 18:00 on April 12th 2012 to intercept an aircraft that was transmitting an emergency signal and could not be identified via radio. Authorisation was given for one of the Typhoons to transit at supersonic speed over land, which resulted in a sonic boom heard by many people in the West Midlands and south-west England. The Typhoons intercepted a civilian Gazelle helicopter in the vicinity of Bath.

Number 3(F) Squadron has painted Typhoon QO-C in a commemorative anniversary paint scheme to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the squadron at Larkhill on May 13th 1912.

Four Typhoons deployed to RAF Northolt on May 2nd 2012 to take part in an exercise called Olympic Guardian. The exercise will run until May 10th. The aircraft involved were ZJ918/QO-L, ZJ924/DD, ZJ933/DF and ZJ935/DJ.

No 1 (Fighter) squadron was re-activated on Typhoon at RAF Leuchars on September 15th 2012. The primary role of 1 (F) Sqn will be to protect the UK's airspace as part of the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) mission.

BAE Systems announced on November 28th 2012 that forty-three Tranche 1 Typhoons delivered to the RAF had been upgraded to Block 5 standard under the Retrofit 2 programme. This includes installation of the forward looking infra-red (FLIR) system, enhancement of air-to-air capability, the introduction of an air-to-surface capability and the ability to use the laser designator pod for precision weapon delivery. The last aircraft to be handed back to the RAF was BS023 (serial ZJ932).

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© David Hastings