RAF stands up new Typhoon squadron at Leuchars

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The UK Royal Air Force will this month move a step closer to retiring its last Panavia Tornado F3 fighters, with a new unit to be stood up at its Leuchars air base in Scotland with the replacement Eurofighter Typhoon.

To be officially reformed on 6 September, 6 Sqn will from early 2011 assume full-time responsibility for providing quick reaction alert (QRA) cover for the northern UK.

It will be the first Eurofighter-equipped squadron to be established away from the service's main operating base for the type at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, from where southern QRA sorties are performed. It already maintains a 1435 Flight contingent of Typhoons on the Falkland Islands, however.

Pilots from 6 Sqn will gradually take on northern QRA responsibilities from late this year under a phased transfer from the Tornado F3s of Leuchars-based 111 Sqn, the air force says. Typhoons will be used to deliver the complete service from early 2011 under current plans.

The RAF has an active fleet of 43 Typhoon fighters and 15 two-seat trainers, as listed in Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. These are also assigned to frontline units 3 and 11 squadrons, and to its 17 Sqn operational evaluation unit and 29 Sqn operational conversion unit at Coningsby.

The UK still has a 232-unit commitment to the four-nation Eurofighter programme, but has already offset 24 of this number against a 72-aircraft deal with the Royal Saudi Air Force. It has also cast doubts over the programme's planned final Tranche 3B production phase, along with international partner Italy, due to budgetary pressures.

The 6 Sqn was previously the last RAF squadron to fly the Sepecat Jaguar strike aircraft (below), which was retired from UK service in 2007.

 
© BernieC gallery on flightglobal.com/AirSpace
Lead page file image showing a 17 Sqn Typhoon © Crown Copyright