Marham Tornado jets swap Norfolk skies for United Arab Emirates on exercise

A Tornado taking part in the exercise. Picture: Sgt Ross Tilly A Tornado taking part in the exercise. Picture: Sgt Ross Tilly

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
3:00 PM

Aircraft from RAF Marham have taken part in an aerial combat exercise along side the United Arab Emirates Air Force.

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Eight Tornado jets from 31 Squadron worked with their Emirati counterparts on intense air-to-air combat training.

Crews also practised air-to-surface tactics with support from the Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset.

“Last year the Prime Minister, David Cameron, spoke of the incredibly strong friendship between the UK and the UAE,” said Air Commodore Al Gillespie, commander of RAF operations in the Middle East.

“During ATLC [the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course] we see that friendship at work as our air forces share their knowledge and experience, and become better able to defend our shared interests.”

Wing Commander Rich Yates, commanding officer of 31 Sqn, said: “The infrastructure here is excellent and the size of the airspace means we can set up packets of aircraft to attack a ground target defended by other aircraft.

“The training has big benefits for us at the tactical level. As a boss it’s always hugely rewarding to see the Squadron come up to speed.”

Flight Lieut Rob Manisty, 31 Squadron pilot

“ATLC develops our ‘high-end’ war-fighting capability. The Emiratis are excellent hosts – I’m very impressed by their capabilities, and with my stay in Abu Dhabi.

“The UAE is a long-term friend with which the UK shares long-term interests. The welcome from our UAE hosts has been exceptional. They’re generous with their time and support, and they provide excellent training.”

Sgt David Parkinson, senior weapons detachment non-commissioned officer, said: “A lot of the young guys here have never deployed before. This is the first time they’ve worked in a multicultural environment – for some, the first time they’ve left the UK. Our hosts are very positive and open – it’s very refreshing.”

Tornado pilot Flight Lieut Rob Manisty said:

“ATLC develops our high-end war-fighting capability. The Emiratis are excellent hosts – I’m very impressed by their capabilities, and with my stay in Abu Dhabi.”

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