…... the target. The third option, the Buccaneer, had an extremely basic navigation and attack system but it was the best option in terms of LGB capability in that it could both designate the target and deliver the weapons. The Buccaneer was chosen.

Therefore, some 3 hectic months after arriving at Lossiemouth, and while still negotiating the many hurdles involved in settling a virtually new squadron into a new role and new accommodation, the order came to deploy as quickly as possible to Cyprus for Operation Pulsator.

The Warning Order to deploy 6 Buccaneers, which was issued on 8 September, specified operations in support of the British peacekeeping force in Beirut and stressed the need for accurate weapon delivery. This drove the selection of crews towards those with overland laser designation (ie Pavespike) experience. Unfortunately, while No 12 Sqn was familiar with Pavespike procedures, it was all in the anti-shipping role and thus largely inapplicable. By contrast, there was some overland Pavespike experience embedded within No 208 Sqn but this was at least two years old as the unit was currently engaged in converting to maritime operations. Nevertheless, six crews were drawn from across the two squadrons, although it was evident that the necessary degree of expertise was concentrated at the squadron leader/Flight Commander level.

With OC 208 Sqn appointed as Detachment Commander (Det Cdr), Lossiemouth’s personnel began to prepare the aircraft, plan the deployment route, organise Intelligence briefings, issue small arms and attend to personal administrative details. On 9 September several Hercules flew into Lossiemouth where they were rapidly loaded with stores before departing for Cyprus with a contingent of Buccaneer ground crew on board. The Buccaneers took off the same day, in three pairs, each of which linked up with a Victor tanker which accompanied them, non-stop, to Akrotiri. All aircraft were on the ground in Cyprus within 24 hours of receipt of the Warning Order.

Dave Southwood, a member of the detachment, recalls the following:

“We were airborne on a MACEX working with some ships – when we got an airborne recall, and this really didn’t happen very often. We got back to Lossiemouth - had no idea why we’d been recalled – to see everybody running around like headless chickens, and it was the start of Op PULSATOR, which was actually known as Op HYPERION for historians for about 24 hours. But it was the support of the British forces in Beirut – there was a war going on there and there were lots of bilateral agreements between the Lebanese Government and different governments. Basically, we knew we were going to deploy and it was a case of go home, pack a bag, and we will give you a call. At 9 o’clock that night we had a call that we would pick you up at 5 o’clock in the morning, and then we went in and we flew out to Cyprus.”


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