5 (AD) Squadron
Following the end of Operation NEWCOMBE early this year, V (Army Cooperation) Squadron were granted a well earned period of recuperation. For the first few months of 2013, the Sentinel fleet had been supporting 2 overseas operations, whilst continuing to train new crews on the Operational Conversion Unit whilst retaining currencies for those on the Squadron.
By now the aircraft were in dire need of some servicing and Squadron personnel were allowed to take some hard earned leave.
With the reduction in the commitment abroad, you would think that the workload would have eased slightly. However, attention soon turned to supporting Exercises back in the UK, planning for the Waddington Airshow and arranging celebrations for the Squadron’s 100th anniversary.
In July, the Squadron deployed to RAF Lossiemouth in support of Combined Qualified Weapons Instructors (CQWI). This exercise offered new challenges to the more junior members of the Squadron and provided the CQWI students with a valuable insight into the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) products that Sentinel can provide. In October, V (AC) Squadron was also invited to participate in Ex Joint Warrior, an air land and maritime integration exercise conducted on a regular basis in order to develop new skills and further develop old ones. Crews also took part in Ex Virtual Flag, a US-lead exercise.
Back in 1913, V Squadron was part of the Royal Flying Corps, carrying out battlefield reconnaissance. Over the years, the Squadron has flown aircraft in a number of roles over a variety of aircraft types, including the Avro 504, RE8, Hurricane, Vampire, Venom, Javelin, Lightning and Tornado to name but a few. V has now come full circle, with the Airborne Stand Off Radar (ASTOR) system providing near real time and post mission analysis on areas of conflict and interest.
In preparation for the Fighting Fifth’s 100th anniversary, a number of fly pasts were arranged, in conjunction with the Red Arrows culminating in a flight over the city of Nottingham on National Armed Forces Day; kicking off a day of celebrations in honour of all UK service personnel. The next two were planned for the RAF Waddington Airshow and featured ZJ692 sporting a new commemorative red tail and maple leaf.
For the anniversary celebration, ZJ692 flew in formation once more, this time with a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane. The Squadron had operated this legendary aircraft back in World War II; a fitting start to the celebrations at RAF Waddington. The night then rolled on, with V’s members and guests being regaled with tales from the annals of the Squadron and enjoyed the hospitality of the Officers’ Mess until the early hours of the morning!
In September, V (AC) was awarded the prestigious Dacre trophy. Announced by Air Marshal Stuart Atha, Air Officer Commanding
1 Group, it was presented to Sqn Ldr Setterfield on behalf of Officer Commanding V by Gp Capt Dacre at the last ever RAF Leuchars Airshow for the Squadron’s efforts and contribution over the previous 12 months. V has won this trophy a number of times in the 1970s when it operated the Lightning. The award back then was given in recognition for weapons proficiency but now it is awarded in recognition for the best Squadron in No 1 Group. We did wonder if European Cup rules would apply – having won it 5 times, do we keep it?
The last month saw a reshuffle in the Squadron Executive. We said goodbye to Wg Cdr Al Marshall, who has left on promotion to Gp Capt. Wg Cdr Dave Kane has stepped in to lead the Squadron for the next few years during which Sentinel will remain as a front line enabler of Air Power.