903 EAW at night

903 EAW

Overview

Based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, 903 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) supports a number of aircraft types, including Typhoon FGR4, Tornado GR4, Voyager and Sentinel, in addition to the 1 Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing (1ISR) detachment and 1 Air Control Centre. There are approximately 500 personnel at 903 EAW deployed in direct support of Operation SHADER.

Command and Control

903 EAW is one of 4 EAWs under command of 83 EAG. The Wing is commanded by an RAF Group Captain who is responsible to the Air Officer Commanding 83 EAG for the Wing’s operations.

History

No 903 (Tactical) Wing was formed on 1 December 1944 at Patenga, Burma. The Wing’s role in the Burma Campaign, under command of 244 Group was direct support to XV Corps based at Arakan. XV Corps was tasked to drive the Japanese forces out of Arakan to establish RAF and Allied air bases along the coastal strip. These bases enabled supplies to be flown to the 14th Army as it advanced across central Burma’s dense jungle, alleviating over-reliance on extended and vulnerable overland lines of supply. In March 1945, the Wing provided close support for the withdrawal of 1st West African Brigade to Letmauk and then Shaukuchon to defend Tamandu as a large force of Japanese withdrew over the An and Taungup Passes. In May 1945, the Wing provided close support to ground forces as they recaptured Rangoon before being redeployed to attack concentrations of Japanese forces remaining in Burma. On 12 September 1945, the Wing was stationed at Kallang, the old civil airport of Singapore City, when Lord Mountbatten accepted the formal surrender of all Japanese forces in South-East Asia. On 31 October 1945, 903 Wing was disbanded, becoming Station Headquarters Kallang.

In 2003, 903 Wing was re-formed for Operation TELIC, based in Basra. The Wing remained operational until it was disbanded in May 2009 with the withdrawal of UK forces from Iraq. The Wing re-formed again at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, in support of Operation HERRICK under command of 83 EAG. The Wing provided support to air operations, and deployed personnel worked closely with their Coalition counterparts at the adjacent US Marine Corps Camp Leatherneck and Afghan Camp Shorabak.

The rapid advance of Daesh through Syria and Northern Iraq during the summer of 2014, provoked strong condemnation from Western and Middle Eastern states. At the beginning of August 2014, and within 48 hours notice, the RAF deployed 140 EAW to RAF Akrotiri. The Wing, consisting of Tornado GR4, C-130 Hercules, and Voyager air-to-air refuelling aircraft, began vital humanitarian air drops to civilians besieged in the region of Mount Sinjar and Amerli in Northern Iraq. The UK Parliamentary vote in September 2014 to permit UK airstrikes against Daesh enabled 140 EAW to launch Tornado GR4 and Voyager aircraft directly in support of Iraqi and Kurdish forces. Tornado GR4 and Typhoon FGR4s (deployed in December 2015) have made a significant contribution to the Global Coalition’s fight against Daesh. The Wing transitioned to 903 EAW on 14 December 2014.

The combined efforts of 903 EAW (including its plethora of deployed Force Elements (currently Tornado, Typhoon, C130J, Voyager and Sentinel)) has been pivotal in the defeat of Daesh; delivering effect which far outweighs the deployed footprint. This has been achieved by a team of dedicated Service personnel who have worked tirelessly for the past 3 years to ensure each facet of the EAW has time and time again provided excellence on operations.

 
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