IX(B) Squadron News
IX(B) Sqn recently deployed three Jets, four crews and thirty engineers and support staff to Istres le Tube as part of Exercise TACTICAL LAFAYETTE WEEKS hosted by the French Air Force 2/4 Sqn.
The engineering advance party arrived at Istres, following a two day trip from RAF Marham. The convoy had to contend with numerous challenges on a road journey fraught with Gallic hazards, including monsoon rains! The French engineering and supply personnel based at Istres provided excellent support to their RAF counterparts throughout the exercise, from moving ISO containers to re-allocating the parking slot for the visiting Antonov 124 to allow flare loading on the tornados.
IX(B) Sqn flew three missions in support of the exercise alongside the French, Spanish and Italians who provided Mirage, Rafale, F18 and Typhoons along with some interesting banter! Following the successful participation in the exercise, the deployed aircraft and engineering personnel departed Istres, with a single jet bound for Wittmund airbase to see off the last flight of the German Phantoms.
Two crews from IX(B) conducted an OTF (overseas training flight) to Wittmund airbase in Germany. The flight had two aims; one was to allow the crews to practice flying in foreign airspace with different procedures and the second was to take part in the “Phantom Pharewell” airshow. They were joined by Squadron engineers who took the chance to conduct Force Development training in nearby Bremen. It was the last time the F-4 Phantom was to fly in Germany and the Air Force wanted to give it a good send off. The aircraft has been in service with the Luftwaffe since 1973 with Wittmund being the first base to receive it. On the day all four aircraft performed various flypasts, each one more impressive than the last much to the delight of the large crowd. The evening party continued the farewell theme and attracted not only the airshow crowd but also military VIP’s including the German Chief of Air Staff.
The IX(B) Sqn crews who took part thoroughly enjoyed the experience of flying to a different country and also being a part of flying history!