903 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) held an Op SHADER ‘open day’ recently for British Forces Cyprus (BFC) personnel and their families. The event held at RAF Akrotiri attracted over 250 people from across the BFC community including Service personnel, their dependants, contractors and civil servants.
Hosted by 903 EAW personnel during some rare time off from their busy operational commitments, the stands open to the invited guests included Typhoon and Tornado fast jets along with a C130J Hercules transport aircraft.
Number 1 Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (1ISR) Wing showed Battle Damage Assessment footage of Op SHADER munition strikes, and RAF Regiment personnel from the Air Mobility Protection Team displayed their Dismounted Close Combat equipment and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear protection/detection equipment.
With aircrew and groundcrew on hand to speak about their aircraft and roles whilst on operations, those attending the event were able to gain an insight in to the capabilities and missions taking place every day on Op SHADER.
Speaking on the importance that BFC personnel have in supporting daily operations, the event organiser Flt Lt Bull, said:
‘The Stn and wider-island are tireless in their efforts to support Op SHADER, from working alongside us during the week to persevering with engine runs happening in the very early hours of the day. Many people, even Service personnel, do not get the opportunity to see the jets up close or talk to those people that fly the missions and prepare the aircraft every day’.
With over half the guests being British Army or non-RAF personnel, those present could get closer to military aircraft than they ever have before, even having the opportunity to look inside the cockpit of the state of the art fighter jets and find out what it takes to keep them flying daily.
For many of the children (and adults!) the highlight was being able to clamber around the Hercules, getting a great understanding of the aircraft which delivers troops and freight into theatre on a regular basis, and even getting the chance to sit in the cockpit.
There were representatives on hand from almost every area of 903 EAW, showing the attendees the great depth and breadth that the RAF requires to conduct successful operations, and the potential roles on offer to future recruits.