Touching down on the 27th August 2013 at RAF Coningsby on their first major deployment outside Saudi Arabia was the Eurofighter Typhoons of the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). The four Typhoons had completed a 3,000 mile journey from their operating base at King Fahed Air Base with three drop tanks fitted and air to air refuelling from a RSAF A330 MRTT, another first for this deployment.
Arriving later the same day were a pair of RSAF Tornado IDS, both in the newer grey scheme that is being applied after the latest round of upgrades. The first pair were followed the next day by a second, also in the grey scheme. Both pairs arrived with the large 2,250 litre drop tanks fitted and having made a fuel stop at Grosseto Air Force Base in Italy.
The RSAF opted to keep the drop tanks on the aircraft for the duration of their stay rather than remove them and refit them again later, although the sortie flown weren’t long enough for them to need to use them.
Joining the Saudis for Exercise British-Saudi Green Flag were the locally based RAF Typhoons from 3(F) Squadron and a combined force of Tornado GR4s from RAF Marham. For the duration of the exercise the RAF Tornados relocated to Coningsby. To make room for the additional aircraft from 29(R) Squadron had deployed to nearby RAF Waddington.
RAF Tornado GR4A ZG705
Supporting the Saudi’s deployment was the C-130H Hercules fleet of the RSAF who has made a number of flights to and from the UK to ferry the ground equipment and spares needed for their Tornados and Typhoons.
The exercise started on Monday 2nd September 2013 with orientation flights. For some of the Typhoon pilots this would have been a familiar process after undergoing type conversation with 29(R) Sqn at RAF Coningsby.
Details of the sorties flown weren’t released but with the RSAF Tornados being equipped with Damocles laser targeting pods and Carrier Bomb Light Stores (CBLS) after arrival it is clear the Tornados would be making use of the east coast ranges. Neither the RAF nor RSAF Typhoons made use of target pods so their role in the exercise would have been air to air, most likely acting as a fighter escort to the Tornados.
RSAF Tornado IDS 7507
Providing threat simulation for the exercise was a Falcon 20 from Cobham Aviation Services.
Cobham Falcon 20 G-FRAW
On Wednesday 4th September two sorties were flown. The first sortie at 10:00 with a RSAF aircraft being paired up with an RAF aircraft of the same type. The RSAF Tornados had four 14KG inert practice bombs fitted to their CBLS which they dropped on the Holbeach range. The RAF Tornados were fitted with Litening III laser targeting pods but none were equipped with CBLS, possibly working in a reconnaissance role for the Saudi Tornados.
A second sorties was flown at 14:00, this time without CBLS fitted.
RAF Tornado GR4A ZA371
The majority of the flying for the exercise was complete by Thursday 12th September with only a few flights being flown on the Friday and the RSAF departed for home on Monday 16th September, again supported by the A330 and C-130H fleets.
Photos from Exercise British-Saudi Green Flag
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