83 Expeditionary Air Group
901 Expeditionary Air Wing
901 Expeditionary Air Wing (901 EAW) maintains two flights at separate locations in the Middle East:
901 EAW ‘A’ Flight is based alongside 83 Expeditionary Air Group at its base in the Middle East. ‘A’ Flight provides essential base support, air mobility, cargo and postal operations and technical services to 83 EAG and other units, including Joint Force Communication and Information Systems (Middle East), who support military voice and data services throughout the region. The Flight also employs RAF environmental health technicians, physical training instructors and medics who help personnel throughout the Middle East remain fighting fit. The Flight employs personnel from the Army and RAF, including a sizeable contingent of personnel from the Army Reserves.
901 EAW ‘C’ Flight is based elsewhere in the Middle East, and supports a detachment of BAE 146 and HS 125 aircraft from XXXII (The Royal) Squadron. These aircraft provide tactical air mobility for UK personnel based across the Middle East, as well as providing VIP and command support air transport in to and around Afghanistan.
Command and Control
901 EAW is one of five expeditionary air wings under command of 83 Expeditionary Air Group (83 EAG). 901 EAW is commanded by an RAF group captain, who is responsible to the UK Air Component Commander for the EAW’s operations and who also serves as the UK Deputy Air Component Commander at 83 EAG. A and C Flight are each commanded by an RAF squadron leader.
No 901 Wing, part of No 224 Group, 3rd Tactical Air Force, was formed on 1 October 1944 at Chiringa, India. At the time of its formation, 901 Wing consisted of two Squadrons: 177 and 211 Squadron, both of which flew Bristol Beaufighter twin-engined fighter-bombers. The Wing was renamed No 901 (Tactical) Wing with effect from 1 December 1944.
The Wing continued to operate up to four squadrons equipped with Beaufighters and de Havilland Mosquitoes during 1944-45, flying primarily in the long-range, low-level interdiction role in support of the 14th Army during the liberation of Burma and attacking Japanese lines of communication as far away as Thailand. Such was the effectiveness of the rugged and heavily-armed Beaufighter in this role that the Japanese are reputed to have nicknamed the aircraft 'Whispering Death'.
In July 1945 the Wing Headquarters was located at Chittagong, and in November it was later moved to St Thomas Mount. Following the Japanese surrender in August 1945, 901 Wing disbanded in December of that year.
On 1st April 2006 some 61 years later, No 901 Wing was re-formed as an Expeditionary Air Wing with three flights, replacing an RAF deployed operating base in the Middle East. 901 EAW ‘B’ Flight was reformed in 2013 as 906 Expeditionary Air Wing, reflecting the increasing importance of strategic air mobility in the Middle East theatre.