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Royal Air Force arrive in support of Desert Talon

By Pfc. M. Daniel Sanchez | | November 21, 2006

The British Royal Air Force 1(F) Squadron arrived on station Nov. 21 in support of the upcoming Desert Talon exercise.

The squadron brought along a group of eight newly designed GR-9 British Harriers and approximately 100 personnel.

“We will be focusing primarily on night flying and close air support techniques,” said Royal Marine Maj. Phil Kelly, officer-in-charge for B Flight, 1(F) Squadron.

Kelly is one of several individuals from the Royal Navy and Marines attached to 1(F) Squadron.

The squadron will also use this time as a work-up in preparation for a deployment to Afghanistan and to give the junior pilots time to familiarize themselves with the new aircraft and the station’s air traffic control system, said Kelly.

There are a few differences between the station’s operating procedures and those of the United Kingdom, he said. But with time and cooperation, the pilots can learn it easily.

Kelly said the squadron personnel look forward to integrating with the station personnel in training.

“I just want to see and learn from (the Marines),” said Senior Aircraft Technician Al Fuller, 1(F) Squadron weapons technician. “If the Marines have an easier way to work on these aircraft, then we would be glad to use it.”

The Marines have been very supportive and easy to work with, said Senior Aircraft Technician Eddie Stanley, 1(F) Squadron weapons technician.

Kelly said his service members are also looking forward to learning about American culture and partaking in Yuma’s

In fact, several of the British troops participated in Thanksgiving for the first time, said Kelly. And others visited San Diego or toured the Yuma area.

The United States and the Royal Air Force have been working together for years, said Kelly.

“We practically speak the same language,” said Kelly.

Marines are very professional and it’s going to be a good experience for everyone, he said.

The British Royal Air Force was founded during World War I in 1918 and is the world’s oldest independent air force. It is also the fifth largest air force in the world, with 998 aircraft and 46,880 personnel at its disposal.

The 1(F) Squadron was formed May 13, 1912 and it was the first squadron to use the “jumper jet,” the early version of the Harrier. The squadron has fought in many battles from World War II to the Global War on Terrorism and has made a name for itself in the pages of history.

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