Visit to RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire
In October 2014 I was very fortunate and and extremely grateful to be invited to visit RAF leeming by a good friend, to visit the maritime air assetts for what is a very large annual excercise called Joint Warrior, a huge excercise in two parts - JW 14-1 in April and JW 14-2 in October, it involves multinational participation of
Air sea and land forces from the U.K. U.S.A. Canada,Germany,Belgium,Netherlands,France ,Norway plus many more. For JW 14-2 the Maritaime air assetts were based at RAF Leeming instead of RAF Lossiemouth in the north of Scotland.
We duly arrived at the main gate, and was met by our host and escort, a Squadron Leader with many years flying experiance on various types of MPA - Maritime Patrol Aircraft, After our ID was checked and passes issued we were taken to the Operations block that used to be the home of 25 (XV) Squadron who were based at Leeming flying Tonado F3`s, and it was quite a treat to see some of their artwork still adorning the walls, while we were having a wet - military term for a brew or cuppa we were given a brief on the format of the excercise, the purpose and how it is all put into practice.
After trying to absorb the huge amounts of information about the excercise it was time to go and visit the aircraft parked out on the pan, The United States Navy P3c Orion was in the process of being prepped for its mission, with crew members busily carrying out their respective tasks, and it was very kind of them them to allow us to get up close to their aircraft and take some photographs, all the while our host giving us yet more fascinating information about the machines, their mission and capability.
The aircraft pictured is a U.S. Navy P3c orion from VP-16 "The War Eagles" based at Jacksonville Florida
Next along the flightline was a Canadian aircraft, Based very much on the P3 orion airframe, but in Canadian service it is called the CP140 Aurora, not much to tell them apart from the outside, it is mainly the electronics suite inside that is different, this particular aircraft is flown by 405 Maritime Patrol Sqn. 405 Sqn currently flies the CP-140 Aurora and CP-140 Arcturus out of 14 Wing, Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
An interesting fact - this was the first RCAF bomber squadron formed overseas and the only RCAF Pathfinder Squadron. No. 405 Squadron was formed at Driffield, Yorkshire, on April 23, 1941, and flew the RCAF's first bombing operation ten weeks later on June 12th and 13th
The final aircraft in the Maritime lineup, was from the French Navy, a Breguet Atlantic, this is quite an old airframe dating from the 1960`s and shows - pehaps a heritage from WW2 times with the glass nose, which as were were shown gives unsurpassed MK1 eyeball views when patrolling especially at low level, the aircraft pictured is from Flotille 21F based at d'aéronautique navale de Lann-Bihoué.
To finish the day off, we were then taken over to 100 Squadron R.A.F. the squadron is the U.K. Aggressor squadron, 100 Squadron now operates in a mixed target facilities role along with exercise and training support which include WSO training, and dedicated aircraft to support the Joint Forward Air Controllers Training and Standards Unit.
All too soon it was time to say our farewells, The day was a fantastic opportunity to get close to a branch of the U.K. armed forces, that is often in the background, Our host and escort, had a wealth of information, and put it across in a way that was easy to take on board and understand and remember, it is quite simply a day I will not forget.
My Sincerest Thanks to all for allowing me this privilege, And a very special note of thanks to
Wing Commander Mike Bracken who organised the visit and out superb host on the day Squadron Leader Lloyd Barrett