No. 99 Squadron

99 Squadron

No. 99 Squadron

No. 99 Squadron Badge

Aircraft: C17-A Globemaster III.

Motto:Quisque Tenax - 'Each One Tenacious'.

Badge: A puma salient - the design embodies firstly the squadron's history as a unit of the Independant Air Force and later as a Night Bombing Squadron. Secondly, Tenacity of Purpose, illustrated by the gallantry of daylight raids on Germany during the First World War and the tenacity required by aircrew of Night Bombing aircraft. Hence the selection of the Black Puma as the main emblem; independant in its habits and credited as being of the nobler beast of prey.

Battle Honours: Western Frontier 1918*, Independant Force and Germany 1918, Mahsud, 1919-1920, Waziristan, 1919-1920, German Ports, 1940-1941, Baltic, 1940-1941, France and Low Countries, 1940, Fortress Europe 1940-1942*, Ruhr 1940-1942*, Berlin 1940-42*, Biscay Ports, 1940, Arakan 1942-44, Burma 1944-45, Manipur, 1944, Eastern Waters 1945.

(*Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard).

History of No. 99 Squadron:

C-17 on the ground No 99 Squadron was formed on 15 August 1917 at Yatesbury, Wiltshire, from a nucleus supplied by No 13 Training Unit. In April 1918, the Squadron was equipped mainly with De Havilland DH9 aircraft, and was deployed to France to operate as a light bomber squadron. The Squadron took part in seventy-six strategic bombing missions directed at German industrial targets for the remainder of the First World War. In September 1918, the Squadron was re-supplied with DH9a bombers and in May 1919 was deployed to India to take part in aerial policing duties over India's Northwest Frontier. On April 1920, the Squadron became No 27 Squadron.

In 1924, No 99 Squadron reformed at Netheravon in Wiltshire and was equipped initially with the Vickers Vimy heavy bomber, and then the Avro Aldershot single-engined. These aircraft were replaced in succession by Avro's Hyderabad, Hinaidi and, in 1933, the Avro Heyford. During 1938 the Squadron converted to the Vickers Wellington bomber, an aircraft it would operate for the majority of the Second World War.

C-17 landing On 8 September 1939, No 99 Squadron entered WW II with the first of many leaflet-dropping missions over Germany. The first bombing raids were launched on 17 April 1940 during the German invasion of Norway. European bombing operations continued until January 1942 when, once again, the Squadron was deployed to India. From its base at Digri, No 99 Squadron commenced night bombing raids against Japanese targets in Burma. In September 1944, the Squadron received its first American-manufactured aircraft, the Consolidated Liberator VI long-range bomber. Equipped with this new aircraft, in July 1945 the Squadron deployed from Dhubalia to the Cocos Islands in preparation for the possible invasion of Malaya. In November 1945, following the Japanese surrender, No 99 Squadron was disbanded.

In 1949, No 99 Squadron reformed as a transport squadron equipped with Avro Yorks based at RAF Lyneham, and it took part in the Berlin Airlift. The Handley Page Hastings followed in August of that year. During the Suez crisis in 1956, the Squadron operated out of Cyprus and dropped paratroopers on Port Said. In 1959, No 99 Squadron commenced worldwide strategic transport operations with its new Bristol Britannia aircraft. In June 1970, the Squadron moved to RAF Brize Norton, where it remained until 6 January 1976, when it was disbanded following the 1974 Defence White Paper.

C-17 over the sea In July 1998, the Government's Strategic Defence Review detailed a requirement for an aircraft capable of deploying the Joint Rapid Reaction Force. Specifically, the aircraft would need to be able to carry outsized loads such as helicopters and large military vehicles. On 16 May 2000, it was announced that the proposed Airbus A400M would provide Britain's strategic airlift requirements. However, as a stopgap until the Airbus was in service, four Boeing C-17A Globemaster III aircraft would be leased for up to nine years. In November 2000, it was announced that No 99 Squadron would be reformed to operate the C-17 at RAF Brize Norton. The Squadron's aircrew and groundcrew had already commenced their initial training alongside USAF C-17 colleagues at Altus and Charleston Air Force Bases. On 17 May 2001, the Squadron's first C-17 was handed over at a ceremony at Boeing's Long Beach plant in California. The remaining three aircraft were delivered at approximately monthly intervals, with the last one received on 24 August 2001.

The C-17 is a most versatile strategic transport aircraft and can deliver outsized loads (up to 169,000 lbs) into small austere airfields with runways as short as 4000 feet. No 99 Squadron's C-17s are the new 'Block 12' version of the airlifter; these aircraft are equipped with upgraded software and avionics, and have additional fuel tanks that extend the aircraft's 2500 nautical mile range by some 15%. The Squadron normally operates the aircraft with a crew of three, two pilots and one air-loadmaster.

C-17 on the ground at night Notable early missions for the Squadron included the delivery of helicopters into the Balkans, the recovery of Royal Navy destroyer engines from the Caribbean and the transport of Tornado F3 aircraft to and from the Falkland Islands. In addition, No 99 Squadron's C-17 aircraft, ground and aircrews proved themselves when providing strategic airlift support for Exercise SAIF SAREEA II in Oman. However, the effects of 11 September 2001 were to provide the Squadron with a significant challenge. No 99 Squadron was officially declared operational as a strategic airlift squadron on 1 January 2002, and within days the Squadron was tasked to fly re-supply missions into Afghanistan. The Squadron's crews, with only a limited number of flying hours on type, found themselves flying in a high threat environment on nightly missions in and out of Kabul. Considering the timescale from being being declared operational, all Squadron members are justifiably proud of their achievements and of the No 99 Squadron motto 'Quisque Tenax' - 'Each Tenacious'.

After a brief respite the Squadron became fully tasked flying in support of military operations in Iraq. Initially, the Squadron operated in the surrounding countries the most frequently of which was Kuwait. The first mission flown into Iraq by 99 Squadron was on May 21 2003; the destination was Tallil airbase. Subsequent missions were flown into Basrah International airport. Following the cessation of the main operational phase, 99 Squadron continues to provide vital logistical support for the troops in southern Iraq flying direct from the United Kingdom.

Additionally, 99 Squadron provides support for operations and exercises throughout the world. During 2003 it has lent support to exercises in Africa. In addition to the Middle East commitments, the C-17 has continued to transport outsized freight to and from the Falkland Islands. On a lighter note, the Squadron still manages to find time to provide a static display of the aircraft at UK airshows much to the delight of the crowds.

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