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An interesting time for the UK as Brexit rears its head. Regardless of the way in which one voted, one can be assured that this country will be consumed by a determined effort to confirm or rather re-define our identity as a nation.

After the Sqn split earlier in the calendar year, much the same can be said about IV(AC) Sqn. We have now weathered the incessant noise produced by the formation of XXV(FE) Sqn, maybe the only formation they’ve managed to achieve in recent months, and as such have been able to confirm and re-define our identity here at IV(AC).

The effort that has gone in to reforming and modernising the air to surface combat work-up, ongoing work on a more efficient radar interception training process, and the recently started development of more effective air combat tactics are all indicators that IV(AC) Sqn have the calibre of staff that define fighter pilot training, not least carry out a successful taxy and brakes check without popping the tyres.

Making progress when the pressure is on and resources are scarce is by and large the essence of the character we are trying to develop in the students. This and the growing rivalry with our XXV(FE) Sqn companions down the corridor are driving an atmosphere of healthy competition, to achieve more than at first seemed possible. For this reason, a detachment was planned to Sardinia for November. The aim: to stretch the students in their awareness of flexible operations and to push the staff to train the keys to success in detaching far-afield.

Hawks at Culdrose

Hawks at Culdrose

Unfortunately, we are not the only European nation with tightening purse strings and our detachment was re-directed to RNAS Culdrose, a Royal Naval Air Station in Cornwall. Almost as far away, as Mike and the Ops staff will attest to!

This detachment was achieved, and we arrived on the Monday raring to go. Again, the luck turned and after 2 aircraft became unserviceable upon landing, the previously favourable weather forecast turned sour; I mean, if I only had to be right 50% of the time I’d be a XXV(FE) Sqn instructor.

Hawks at Culdrose

Hawks at Culdrose

Thus, the decision was made to redirect the 3 remaining aircraft to Cheshire and complete as many sorties as we could while waiting for the high winds at RAF Valley to drop to a legally approachable speed. Off went Ninja formation and 2 days, 3 successful sorties later; 6 student’cheeses’ were achieved with a “Bounce” hostile qualification to boot. More importantly our resident US Marine Corps pilot experienced his first Nando’s whole chicken meal.

As the Christmas season approaches, IV(AC) Sqn will have to measure our successes in the face of difficult resource. But so long as we have a fair idea of who’s ahead of us in the circuit, we’ll be sure to enjoy the fireworks at the end of year lunch.

In futurum videre.