2 Squadron History

RAF Marham 1982 - Current

RAF Marham - 1982 - Current Day - The Tornado Era
Marham held an open day on 9th April 1983 to celebrate 25 years of in flight refuelling at the Station. Resident aircraft on show included: Victor K2 XL160 of 57 Squadron (hemp camouflage); XL551 of 55 Squadron; XL231 of 232 OCU; Tornado GR1 ZA560/G of 617 Squadron and ZA542/05 of 27 Squadron. Two other types of tanker on static display were KC-135A of the 410th Bomber Wing, USAF and a Vulcan K2 of 50 Squadron.

Resident units at Marham in February 1985 were 27 and 617 Squadrons (Tornado GR1); 55 and 57 Squadrons and 232 OCU (Victor K2) and the Fenland Gliding Club with various gliders. On 30th June 1986, 57 Squadron was disbanded. From March 1987 the Tornado GR1’s of the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit from Honington were based here while runway repairs were carried out; they returned home after six months. HM The Queen Mother arrived by road on 13th January 1988 to present 617 Sqn with a new standard in No 1 Hangar. The Nimrod MR2’s of 42 Squadron arrived at Marham in March 1988, for a stay of about 12 months while runway repairs were undertaken at their home base of St Mawgan.

Marham held an open day on 9th April 1983 to celebrate 25 years of in flight refuelling at the Station. Resident aircraft on show included: Victor K2 XL160 of 57 Squadron (hemp camouflage); XL551 of 55 Squadron; XL231 of 232 OCU; Tornado GR1 ZA560/G of 617 Squadron and ZA542/05 of 27 Squadron. Two other types of tanker on static display were KC-135A of the 410th Bomber Wing, USAF and a Vulcan K2 of 50 Squadron.

Resident units at Marham in February 1985 were 27 and 617 Squadrons (Tornado GR1); 55 and 57 Squadrons and 232 OCU (Victor K2) and the Fenland Gliding Club with various gliders. On 30th June 1986, 57 Squadron was disbanded. From March 1987 the Tornado GR1’s of the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit from Honington were based here while runway repairs were carried out; they returned home after six months. HM The Queen Mother arrived by road on 13th January 1988 to present 617 Sqn with a new standard in No 1 Hangar. The Nimrod MR2’s of 42 Squadron arrived at Marham in March 1988, for a stay of about 12 months while runway repairs were undertaken at their home base of St Mawgan.

In May 1990, Marham played host to a visit by the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) for the third successive year. It was a spectacular event with static and flying displays, during which nobody would have envisaged the wind of change which was shortly to bring Marham rapidly into Transition To War (TTW). Iraq invaded Kuwait in August, and withinweeks, crews from Nos 27 and 617 Sqns deployed to the Gulf. By October the contingent from Marham had grown to some 250 in number. As these personnel returned in December, tankers from 55 Squadron were deployed to Bahrain, where 70 personnel remained over Christmas. By this time Marham the main airhead, was fully active as Hercules aircraft ferried equipment by day and night from the base to the Gulf - a massive logistics exercise.

The operation, known as 'GRANBY', continued into 1991. Numbers 27 and 617 Squadrons were again deployed to the Gulf where, on 16 January, the operation to liberate Kuwait began with the bombing of Baghdad. Crews from both Marham Squadrons took part in the offensive. The Station was honoured when the Honorary Air Commodore, Her Majesty the Queen, gave a morale-boosting visit to the Unit that same month, and this was followed by a visit from the Chief of the Air Staff in February. With Kuwait liberated, a cease-fire was called at 5am on Thursday 28 February 1991. Shortly afterwards, in March, all 3 Marham Squadrons and the support personnel returned to tumultuous welcomes. Later, on June 6 Tornados from Marham supported a Gulf Victory parade flying over London.

December 1991 heralded the forthcoming reconnaissance role Marham was to assume when II(AC) Squadron arrived from Laarbruch in Germany. In late summer 1992, Marham crews were again deployed to the Middle East, this time on Operation 'SOUTHERN WATCH' enforcing the 'no fly zone' as declared by the United Nations to protect the Marsh Arabs from Saddam Hussein’s attacks out of the 32nd parallel. No 617 Squadron crews flew with Thermal Imaging And Laser Designation (TIALD) pods, which had been used to great effect previously by the Squadron during Operation 'DESERT STORM'.

A further milestone in Marham's history was met when the station was chosen to host the 75th Anniversary celebrations of the Royal Air Force in 1993. After months of preparation, 1 April saw huge crowds of invited service and civilian personnel at Marham. The event was given extensive media coverage, and although the wet weather and low cloud caused the flying programme to be cancelled, the celebrations concentrated on ground displays which were seen by the biggest gathering of the Royal Family at an RAF event since the Royal Review at Odiham in 1952.

In September 1993 No 27 Squadron disbanded and immediately re-formed as No 12 Squadron prior to relocating to RAF Lossiemouth in January 1994. No 55 Squadron, the last of the Victor K2 tanker squadrons, disbanded amid ceremony and parade during October 1993. In November that year the last Victor flew out of Marham and, sadly, the remaining aircraft were sold as scrap. The same month saw the arrival of No 39 (1 PRU ) Squadron at Marham, with their Canberra PR9s adding to Marham's growing role as a photographic reconnaissance station.

During February 1994, the Station was again honoured by a visit from the Honorary Air Commodore, Her Majesty the Queen, during which Her Majesty witnessed the official arrival of No XIII Squadron Photographic Reconnaissance Tornados which redeployed from RAF Honington. The most recent alteration to RAF Marhams structure occurred when No 617 Squadron moved to RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, in the April of this year to take up a maritime role. Thus RAF Marham with it's Squadron of Canberras and 2 Tornado GR1A Squadrons, has now truly become the RAF's centre of reconnaissance excellence!

The Marham Reconnaissance Wing has continued to fly Operations over Iraq, Bosnia and more recently over Afghanistan. With the arrival of IX (B) Squadron and 31 Squadron, the Tornado GR1A fleet has been upgraded to Tornado GR4s, with a change in tactical role to include; Attack, Reconnaissance and Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD).

On 17 July 2001 No IX (B) Squadron completed its move from RAF Brüggen in Germany to RAF Marham in Norfolk. The Squadon has continued the proud history of her ancestors and has been at the frontline of RAF operations during the Cold War and more recently in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and Kosovo in 1999. Her return to RAF Marham is the penultimate chapter in the RAF's last overseas Main Operating Base, as RAF Brüggen finally ceases to be an active airfield in August 2001. The move to RAF Marham has come about as part of the MOD's Strategic Defence Review, and with the arrival of No 31 Squadon in August 2001, RAF Marham became the RAF's largest and most potent operational, front-line base.

The Marham Reconnaissance Wing changes its name to The Marham Wing to reflect its multi role capability, it currently consists of 4 Tornado GR4 Squadrons and 1 Canberra Squadron.

With the disbandment of Number 39 (1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit) Squadron on 29 July 2006. RAF Marham is now home to the Tornado GR4 Force element of 138 Wing, which also parents RAF Lossiemouth in this new venture.

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