Staff and fast jet students from RAF Valley ’s 208 (R) Squadron have recently returned from taking part in Exercise Napoleon Sphinx at French Air Force Base Solenzara. The squadron deployed five Hawk TMk1 aircraft to the base – on the Mediterranean island of Corsica - to experience operating from a foreign location under simulated “austere” conditions, and to further the training of the students on their tactical weapons course.

208(R) Squadron is one of the RAF’s advanced fast jet training squadrons and operates the BAE Systems Hawk TMk1 in both the advanced flying training and tactical weapons training role. The squadron is tasked with the training of RAF, Royal Navy and some international defence training students. This training involves navigation, instrument flying, formation flying, low level attack, and air combat – the latter being the focus of the detachment.

The detachment to Corsica provided the opportunity for squadron personnel to operate from a foreign location, using foreign air traffic control and flying in different airspace to Anglesey and North Wales . For the students, this skill will be essential when they move on to the fast jet front line due to the expeditionary nature of both RAF and Royal Navy operations. The favourable weather conditions in the Med also provided the perfect opportunity for training to be achieved and the squadron was able to fly over 80 sorties in just 6 flying days.

Wing Commander Chris Kidd, Officer Commanding 208 (R) Squadron said: ”I am extremely pleased. The detachment has been a huge success due to the hard work and organisation of all involved. I am particularly impressed with the students who managed to complete the entire basic fighter manoeuvre phase in only 6 days.”

Flying was not the only focus of the detachment and squadron members were keen to experience the force development opportunities on offer in Corsica . One of the highlights of this was a “staff ride” to Calvi. This provided the opportunity to view the famous Napoleonic citadel which was at the heart of the siege of Calvi during the Napoleonic Wars.

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