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Raf Units Return From Cyprus Nov 14, 2013

Aircraft and personnel from 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) were sent to region earlier this year as a contingency measure to protect the two Sovereign Base Areas on the island, which are home to more than 6000 British service personnel and their families.

The unit comprised state-of-the art Typhoon jets, E-3D Sentry early warning aircraft, supported by Tristar air-to-air refuelling tankers, RAF Regiment Force Protection personnel, and fighter controllers.

121 EAW Commanding Officer Wing Commander Blythe Crawford said: “This operation has clearly proven that the UK still possesses a very capable and deployable Air Defence capability.

“While our primary objective was to deter aggression and protect UK assets in the Eastern Mediterranean I cannot understate the value of this deployment at an operational and strategic level.

“Our integration as a cohesive joint force with our sister Service, the Royal Navy, then together as a UK force with both our French and US allies, has been an outstanding example of how Britain can rapidly respond deploying a credible force, and immediately engage with key allies.”

He said aircraft from 121 EAW were able to conduct sorties from Cyprus within hours of arriving on 24 August to reduce the threat potentially posed at the height of the recent turmoil.

They included;

· XI Squadron Typhoons from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire which over the two and a half months of the operation flew 224 sorties

· 8 Squadron E-3D Sentry aircraft from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire which routinely flew 10 sorties, seven-days-a-week, to provide command and control of other aircraft.

· 216 Squadron Tristar tankers from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire which provided air-to-air refuelling.

· 1 Air Control Centre from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire which deployed its Type 101 radar to provide round-the-clock radar coverage and tactical control of aircraft during sorties.

· Number 4 Force Protection Wing from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire which assumed responsibility for security at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus within 12 hours of arriving.

The deployed force was followed by the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS DRAGON which combined with RAF units to generate a constant picture of activity in the eastern Mediterranean as part of the air defence effort.

Officer Commanding XI Squadron Wing Commander Chris Layden said that as the threat in the region decreased the Typhoon detachment was able to hone its skills even further.

He said: “Alongside our defensive alert duties, XI Squadron has conducted an extensive training operation with French, US and British warships.”

The deployment also required RAF units to operate in a multinational environment including conducting joint operations with the American aircraft carrier USS NIMITZ and the French destroyer CHEVALIER PAUL.

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