June 1989 – The Squadron is at Gutersloh flying the Harrier GR3
The last six months have been busy and productive for IV (AC) Sqn. Nov 88 saw the trappers visit the Sqn for possibly the last GR3 Staneval, which went well.
Routine flying has continued with the usual Simulated Attack Profiles and recce, with Air Combat Training keeping us busy during bad weather periods over the winter. January saw the annual Armanent Practice Camp/Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation at Decimomannu, resulting in a fine victory against 5 Sqn and their shiny new Tornado F3s, in the ACMI.
One of our major tasks has been updating the recce library prior to the disbandment of the Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre and the loss of the recce role in June 1989. Bob Marston planned a 10 target trip for the final competition, pilots receiving maps 45 minutes before take-off – the boys were seen racing around the low flying area with their hair on fire!
The build-up to Taceval began in April with Handy Forge 89, at Sennelager (probably the worst lager in the world!). A lack of Junior Pilots and reasonable weather lead to plenty of good “field” flying for the Squadron. Excellent weather at Lossiemouth in May made the annual Operational Low Flying detachment a major success. CF-18 aggressors from Baden Solingen provided an excellent modern air threat. Targets were defended by modern SAM and AAA systems – encouraging some interesting tactical thinking. The Canadians also brought a two-seater and flew the majority of the boys. Everyone now wants an F-18 exchange tour!
Whilst in Scotland we practised Deck Landing and carrier ops from HMS Ark Royal – rehearsing one of the roles we picked up from 1(F) Squadron while they work-up on the GR5. Ten pilots worked up in Yeovilton in preparation for the ship, and the actual exercise was a huge success and convinced the “team” that being a land-lubber isn’t a bad thing after all!
Weekend detachments have included Pisa and Akrotiri, and Ashley Stevenson is currently on a display pilot’s tour of Europe – as displays in Germany have been banned this year.
Socially, we have had a busy time too with the usual detachment, field and Squadron dining-in nights. The Squadron band “The Chance Brothers” is enjoying a popular revival, playing at many venues to packed audiences!
We have said good-bye to Harry Karl and Steve Hicks – both off to fly 747s for Air New Zealand and British Airways respectively. Tim Ellison is off to 1(F) Squadron and Roger Robertshaw left us for a two-year tour in Belize. Dave Boggon – Wing Weapons Officer and Andy Kirlpatrick – OC Staneval, are regular players on the Squadron scene.
The near future has two field deployments and a detachment to Fassburg in store as well as a Dissimilar Air Combat Training detachment to Baden Solingen to continue our good relations with 421 Squadron RCAF. We’re scheduled to receive eight new pilots over the next six months.