208 Hosts Swiss Air Force

RAF Valley hosted some colourful summer visitors recently in the shape of seven bright red Swiss Air Force Pilatus PC-21 basic fast jet trainers. The Swiss Air Force spent a week at the Anglesey air base working with 208(R) Sqn to gain experience at operating from a foreign location, and to conduct flying training in a different - but slighter smaller - mountain range with the additional challenges of a coastal, maritime environment.

The Swiss PC21 is one of the world’s most advanced basic trainers. The aircraft can mimic jet engine handling and fighter aircraft maneuverability. It can also have the cockpit ergonomics tailored to mimic a nation’s front-line fighter type. In the case of the Swiss, the PC21 is designed to be a trainer aligned to the Boeing F-18 Hornet, the country’s primary air defence aircraft.

Like most air forces, the Swiss Air Force gains much from training away from home bases. It practices all elements of a squadron deployment – from pilots to support personnel – in the operational essentials. The Swiss contingent have been supported by their own engineers and ran their own flight-line whilst at Valley, with all spares and consumables for the aircraft having been brought in by road.

Recent overseas detachments for our own RAF and Royal Navy fast jet trainees have seen 208(R) Squadron deploy to RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus and the French Air Base at Solenzara, Corsica in 2014. Later this year, IV(R) Squadron will also be heading off to train with the French at Solenzara. Wing Commander Kidd, OC 208(R) Squadron, said “Unlike most military air arms, the Swiss Air Force do not normally deploy overseas so this has been a rare opportunity for both them and us to work together. Overseas detachments are invaluable for the RAF and RN in the training of our pilots, operations staff and engineers: we learn how to operate in different airspace and climates but, importantly, we learn how to prepare and support British foreign policy through contingent and enduring military commitments.

Editor: Sqn Ldr Dave Williams

Photos: SAC Rob Travis RAF Valley
© MOD Crown Copyright 2015

This article first appeared on:
The Royal Air Force Website and
The RAF Valley Website.

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