Welcome to this brief introduction to 31 Squadron ‘Goldstars’. This website will give you some information about our history (we have spent less than 12 years in UK since our formation in 1915) and it will bring you bang up to date on the exciting current roles, tactics and equipment of today.
For 31 Squadron as for most military units, Afghanistan is never far away from our thoughts. For us though, deploying there as the first Marham Squadron in 2009 had special meaning as it meant the Squadron had come full circle since its formation and immediate posting to India (now Pakistan). When supporting UK and coalition forces across all of Afghanistan, 31 Squadron aircraft were once again operating to secure areas around Kabul and in and around the Khyber Pass, just like the pioneers back in 1915 who blazed the trail and earned the Squadron motto ‘First in Indian Skies’.
In the modern age, canvass and fabric has been replaced by aluminium and jet engines and an array of reconnaissance sensors coupled with a range of precision weapons. The role of Combat ISTAR (being able to perform a wide range of tasks, from reconnaissance, showing presence, deterring and delivering kinetic effect if necessary) is one in which our current aircraft, the Tornado GR4, excels. At speeds of up to 10 miles a minute and in all weathers, it is a crucial contributor to the current operations.
The Squadron is blessed with a multiple award-winning engineering team – most recently commended for their unprecedented record of achieving a 100% sortie launch rate over 400 sorties in Afghanistan and then winners of the HQ 1 Group Engineering Excellence prize. This commitment and dedication has ensured guaranteed support to ground forces.
I hope you enjoy finding out more about the Squadron, its role, it’s equipment and most of all its people.
Pictures Crown Copyright/Jamie Hunter
31 Squadron is part of the 138 Expeditionary Wing at RAF Marham
31 Squadrons aircraft and crews were part of the RAF Tornado force in the Gulf War of 1991 and the Squadron continues to fly on regular operations over Iraq. On 1 January 1995 the Squadron was declared in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) role equipped with the Air Launched Anti Radiation Missile (ALARM) . During 1999 the Squadron re-equipped with the Tornado GR4 qualifying a night EO Combat Ready cadre by the end of that year. 1999 also saw 31 Squadron participate in Operation ENGADINE, NATO operations over the Former Republic of Yugoslavia.