As No IX (Bomber) Squadron sees out its time as one of the last two Panavia Tornado GR4 units at RAF Marham, it’s next era is already emerging.
The famous Vampire Bat emblem is enduring and moving to the Eurofighter Typhoon, with the squadron set to re-form at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, as the Royal Air Force’s sixth front-line unit flying the type in April. The first Typhoon in No IX(B) Squadron markings emerged at RAF Lossiemouth yesterday, as evidenced by ZJ924 in the attached image from Niall Paterson.
It’s pleasing to see that the squadron looks to have secured a full tail emblem in the same style as on No II (AC) Squadron jets, opposed to the shield design adopted by the first RAF Typhoon units.
The squadron will operate older Tranche 1 jets, and will primarily be tasked as an air defence unit, covering UK Quick Reaction Alert and a new specialist aggressor role. The latter is particularly interesting, as the RAF has to date used Hawk T1As of No 100 Squadron at RAF Leeming as its aggressors. The Typhoon clearly represents a welcome step-up as a high-end opponent in air-to-air training, and is likely to complement the forthcoming Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) contracted activities. This will likely include a lower tier of aggressor, along the lines of the USAF’s contracted Adversary Air (ADAIR) providers.
With a dramatic increase in the need for mass as well as radar and jammer-equipped aggressors in the UK and Europe — think British F-35Bs at RAF Marham and two squadrons of USAFE F-35As planned for RAF Lakenheath from 2021 — it’s likely that the ‘Bats’ and their Typhoons will be in high demand.