Out With The Old In With The New - Renumbering Parade Royal Air Force Cottesmore.
On Wednesday 31st March 2010 Royal Air Force Cottesmore will see the renumbering of No IV (AC) Squadron, commanded by Wing Commander Harv Smyth DFC MA RAF, to No IV (R) Squadron; and the disbandment of No 20 (R) Squadron, commanded by Wing Commander Lincoln Taylor BEng MA RAF. An historical occasion and a milestone in Royal Air Force history
No IV (AC) Squadron has spent the bulk of the last 5 years supporting operations in Afghanistan; most notably the Squadron was awarded Headquarters 1 Group’s Operational Performance Trophy in recognition of the Squadron’s exceptional performance whilst in combat on Operation HERRICK in 2006. Since returning from Afghanistan in the Spring of 2009 the Squadron has worked tirelessly to regenerate all its frontline capabilities, culminating in its most recent deployment to EXERCISE RED FLAG in Nevada. Whilst Wednesday’s parade will be a particularly poignant event for IV (AC) Squadron, since the ‘Happy IV’ team will be breaking up, it is extremely fitting that the IV Squadron name plate will be kept alive in reserve status as the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit at Royal Air Force Wittering.
No IV (AC)’s last day of Squadron flying was Friday 26th March. Celebrating this auspicious occasion they flew a Diamond 9 formation flypast of Royal Air Force Cottesmore and Wittering. Wing Commander Harv Smyth stated beforehand, “It will undoubtedly be an incredibly emotional affair, since not only is it IV (AC)’s final flying event, but also because it will be my own personnel final sortie in a Harrier”.
After 72 years of overseas service in India, the Far East and West Germany, No 20 Squadron returned to Royal Air Force Wittering in 1992. Since then, in the guise of No 20 (R) Squadron, it has trained over 200 RN and RAF Harrier pilots on ab intio, and subsequent postgraduate and specialised courses, as well as all the ground crews for the front line squadrons. On Wednesday, the 20 Squadron standard will be laid up, symbolising the end of the historic and glorious contribution that this Squadron has made over the past 95 years. However, inheriting the IV (R) nameplate will be an honour that the Operational Conversion Unit will be proud to bear and take forward for the next generation of Harrier pilots and engineers.
In addition, the last GR 7 (40A) will be retired on 31 March and will fly in the final IV (AC) formation. Joint Strike Wing, as it will be known on 1 April 2010, will move to a full GR 9 force, even more capable than its predecessor and totally optimised for its combat role.
Wednesday’s parade will take place in the morning and will be reviewed by the Commander in Chief, Air Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Chris Moran KCB OBE MVO ADC MA BSc FRAeS RAF. Other senior guests will include Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Keith Williamson GCB AFC and a considerable number of serving and retired officers from No IV (AC) and No 20 (R) Squadrons.
Photographs: RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2010.