RAF Crusaders in Canada

THE ROYAL Air Force’s 14 Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth, Morayshire, deployed 141 personnel, including 14 pilots and 12 navigators, to Maple Flag on an RAF Tristar for the second period of the exercise. Nine Tornado GR.4s were already at CFB Cold Lake, having been involved in the first period flown by II(AC) Squadron from RAF Marham, Norfolk. Wg Cdr Basnett, OC 14 Squadron, told AFM: «We are flying six jets in the morning and four in the afternoon. The engineers have had to work extremely hard to make that happen, because we are a long way from home and a long way from our major spares supply. They have made it work and the squadron has achieved all of its objectives. The engineers have been outstanding.»

The squadron was originally to have played a purely strike role. Shortly before arriving at Cold Lake, Wg Cdr Basnett was advised that the Americans had withdrawn SEAD assets, F-16CJs and EA-6Bs, from the exercise. «We were able to demonstrate our capabilities to the Canadians, showing them that we can not only carry bombs to destroy the targets, but also carry ALARM missiles to take out some of the SAM threats. We usually use ALARM for self-suppression heading into a target area. At Maple Flag we were able to expand on that a bit and help out where we could within the package. We have no ALARM missiles at Cold Lake, but the system software allows us to generate a picture similar to what we would see when firing an ALARM for real.»

On the subject of exercise flying, he added: «We have also been conducting XINT (Emergency Interdiction) or Time Sensitive Targeting with a developing target. The AWACS controller directs the Tornados to a specific area called a ROZ box (Restricted Operating Zone), and whilst en route to that box, target details are passed to the Tornado crew, which has worked very well. It is not a new role for the RAF — we practise this regularly, with the British Army and in the Gulf with the US Marine Corps and US Army.»

Wg Cdr Basnett concluded: «The flying has been superb, the airspace is fantastic, and the squadron has met its objectives. It has been a very successful detachment.»

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