First frontline units go as RAF prepares to start full-time Eurofighter operations
The UK Royal Air Force has disbanded the first of its three frontline squadrons operating the Sepecat Jaguar GR3 as it draws closer to fielding the Eurofighter Typhoon. Disbandment of 54 Sqn at the UK's Jaguar main operating base RAF Coltishall on 11 March was accompanied by the standing down of a second unit – 16 Sqn, the Jaguar operational conversion unit (OCU).
The event took place less than a month before 17 Sqn, the RAF's Typhoon operational evaluation unit, is due to begin full-time operations from RAF Coningsby, with the unit to transfer from BAE Systems' Warton site on 1 April. The air force's Typhoon OCU, 29 Sqn, will follow on 1 July, marking an end to the Case White introduction-into service-partnership between the RAF, BAE and Rolls-Royce at Warton. The UK's first frontline unit to field the Typhoon – 3 Sqn – will start operations at Coningsby in 2006.
The RAF will continue operating the Jaguar GR3 and T4 trainer for another two years, with its two remaining squadrons – 6 and 41 – to be stood down in 2006 and 2007 after playing a vital role for crews transitioning to the Typhoon. RAF Coltishall will also close from 2007 as part of the UK's ongoing Defence Airfield Review base rationalisation process.