The Royal Air Force 121 Expeditionary Air Wing that was sent to Cyprus ahead of a possible war of Western nations and Syria has returned home on 14 November 2013, according to a statement by the RAF.
The main element consisted of Eurofighter Typhoon fighters from 11 Sqn based at RAF Coningsby. They flew 224 sorties starting 24 hours after their arrival in Cyprus on 24 August 2013, according to 121 Expeditionary Air Wing Commander Blythe Crawford. Boeing E-3D Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft from 8 Sqn flew 10 sorties every day. Lockheed Tristar tankers from 216 Sqn at RAF Brize Norton provided the inflight ‘gas’ for all those flights.
Further more 1 Air Control Centre from RAF Scampton deployed with the Type 101 radar and Number 5 Force Protection Wing from RAF Brize Norton secured RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus on the ground, 12 hours after arriving. The RAF force was supplemented by Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon, which provided a situational picture of activity in the eastern Mediterranean and boosted defence intelligence gathering in case Syrian forces would have retaliated against Western bombing by attack the 6,000 British service men on two British territories in Cyprus.
A huge military air exercise in the skies of Scandinavia ended on Friday September 27, 2013. During this first ever edition of the Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE13) about 70 aircraft of five nations flew an impressive number of 1200 sorties, accumulating more than 2,000 flying hours.
Up to 70 aircraft were in the air at a certain time, flying from Luleå-Kallax in Sweden, Rovaniemi in Finland and the Royal Norwegian Air Force main bases of Bodø and Ørland.
Two of NATO’s native English speaking nations contributed as well, but amazingly the Royal Danish Air Force didn’t participate with any of their F-16s in this somewhat Red Flag-styled Scandinavian exercise.
These are the aircraft, units and nations that did participate:
Operating from Bodø (Norway): 34 aircraft
8 F-15C, USAFE, 493rd FS
10 F-15E, USAFE, 494th FS
8 F-16AM/BM, RNoAF, 132 AW
2 F-18M2, FinAF, OT
6 JAS 39C, SweAF, 212.sqn
Operating from Luleå-Kallax (Sweden): 17 aircraft
8 Typhoon, RAF, 6 Sqn
4 JAS 39C, SweAF, 211.sqn
4 JAS 39C, SweAF, OT/E
1 S 100 (ASC890) AEW&C, SweAF, 71.sqn
Operating from Rovaniemi (Finland): 14 aircraft
8 F-18C/D, FinAF, FS11
6 JAS 39C, SweAF, 171.sqn
Operating from Ørland (Norway): 4 aircraft
2 KC-135, USAFE, 351st ARS
2 E-3A, NATO, AWACS
Some supporting aircraft like the Saab TP 100 of the Swedish Air Force are not included in the sum-up, because they were not part of the air combat training itself.
As reported this week, the F-35A Lightning II has taken the final hurdle in the Netherlands. That leaves a few companies with empty hands, although it has to be said that Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter GmbH did just about everything they could. It’s however no major surprise that the F-35A will after all replace the Dutch F-16 in a few years time. Saab, Dassault, and Eurofighter GmbH were essentially the losers from the word ‘go’, as the Dutch MoD basically had only thing in mind. Here goes a tribute to losers!
In 2001, Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter went head to head at the Leeuwarden airshow in the Netherlands. The JSF – as the F-35 was known as back then – was nowhere to been seen, since the prototype X-35 only flew first in October 2000.
In the years that followed, all three competitors started appearing in European skies more and more, while the F-35 only really started testing in late 2006.
As production mounted, Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter started looking for export customers for their hardware in the hope that sells would really take off. All types saw action in the 2011 Libya war. Meanwhile, testing of the F-35 continues in the US. Some time between August 2016 and December 2016, the first USAF F-35 squadron will reach Initial Operational Capability.
Show off In recent years, Gripens, Rafales and Eurofighters were steady performers at airshows worldwide. It is unclear when the first F-35 will be seen outside the United States.
The final loser There is however one more loser in the well over a decade long debate about a Dutch F-16 replacement. It’s the F-35A Lightning II that in some years time will touch down on Dutch soil, but will have to do its very best to win the hearts and trust of Dutch taxpayers. Plus, we at AIRheads↑FLY simply think its not the sexiest thing in the sky. Go Rafale!
The Royal Air Force deployed six Typhoon fighter jets to its Akrotiri base at Cyprus on Thursday morning August 29th.
,,This is part of ongoing contingency planning”, an RAF official writes in a press release. ,,This is a precautionary measure, specifically aimed at protecting UK interests and the defence of our Sovereign Base Areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region. This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria.”
But in case there will be action the Eurofighter Typhoons can quickly be retasked with other missions, although interdiction of Syrian airspace seems highly risky at first if one considers the country’s ground based air defences.
,,The Prime Minister has made clear no decision has been taken on the UK’s response to the situation in Syria and there will be a House of Commons vote before any direct military involvement”, according to the RAF press release.
Later on Thursday the British parliament voted against military actions against Syria, so the possible re-tasking of the Typhoons is out of the question.