Last week RAF Marham hosted 2 Typhoons from IX(B) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, to participate in a training exercise with F-35B Lightning aircraft from 617 Squadron. The 2 aircraft types conducted Dissimilar Air Combat Training where the pilots went head to head in simulated close air to air combat. This training gave the pilots the opportunity to put their aircraft through their paces whilst also cementing the interoperability between the 2 aircraft types.
The Typhoons landed at RAF Marham and based themselves at the 617 Squadron site, where IX(B) Squadron had previously resided when they were based at RAF Marham as a Tornado GR4 Squadron. Both IX(B) Squadron and 617 Squadron have a long history between them and indeed a rivalry that started back in 1944 when both squadrons flew Lancaster Bombers armed with Tallboy bombs. Their target was the German battleship Tirpitz located in the Tromso Fjord in Germany. The Lancaster’s dropped their Tallboy bombs with 3 hitting their target causing the battleship to sink rapidly. The sinking of the Tirpitz marked the end of Germany’s Naval War in Northern Waters as Hitler had lost the last influential ship of his surface battle fleet. The question was ‘Which squadron dropped the bomb that sunk the Tirpitz?’ Both squadron’s laid claim to this accolade which started the long running rivalry that still remains today. (However it is clear, 617 sank the Tirpitz.)
Wg Cdr Stew Campbell, Officer Commanding 617 Squadron said, “It was great to welcome our colleagues from IX(B) Squadron to RAF Marham last week to take part in Dissimilar Air Combat Training sorties which offered valuable experience to the pilots flying both types of aircraft. This is the first time that IX(B) Squadron has returned to RAF Marham since it disbanded as a Tornado squadron and, whilst the friendly rivalry between the 2 squadrons continues, it was put to one side once airborne as we demonstrated the interoperability and fighting force of the UK Combat Air Force.”
For IX (B) Squadron, the training was also an opportunity to practice Agile Combat Employment. Operating away from their home station at Lossiemouth meant the Squadron had to work without access to Typhoon-specific support.
Squadron Leader Declan Monaghan, IX (B) Squadron, said, “Dissimilar Air Combat Training against F-35s is valuable because it gives us the chance to learn more about the F-35 and gain a better understanding of how Typhoon and F-35 can integrate and operate together. Basing ourselves at Marham also allowed us to train for scenarios when we might have to demonstrate increased flexibility and resilience by operating away from Typhoon’s facilities at Lossiemouth and Coningsby.”