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Goodbye to 25!
Andy Evans at the RAF Leeming charity photocall saying farewell to 25 Squadron!

With the introduction of the Eurofighter Typhoon to the UK Military, the fait of the Tornado F.3 community is sealed, destined to eventually go the same way as the Jaguar fleet; to the scrap yard. Until, if ever the full compliment of Typhoon's are delivered to the RAF there will inevitably be too many squadrons for too few aircraft. Sadly, this results in one thing; disbandment and draw down.

 


No where has this been more obvious than at RAF Leeming. Following the transfer of 11(F)Squadron to RAF Coningsby and Typhoon, this left 25(F)Squadron and 100(R)Squadron keeping the bases fast jet tradition alive. However, during April 2008, 25(F)Squadron were slated to disband ending RAF Leemings' frontline air defence role. The sad fact of this disbandment is that the Squadron's standards are being laid up; meaning that 25(R)Squadron are gone forever. Twenty Five pre-date the RAF itself and symbolises the constant drawdown currently plaguing the military. However, the final year of operations have shown 25(F) as a highly professional and dedicated unit. Operating QRA from Leeming rather than deploying to Coningsby lead to a high tempo of operations; including interceptions of invading Tu-160 and Tu-95 intruders into NATO's defence area. Such an outstanding Squadron deserved a fitting goodbye that reflected the international style of their operations, their history and their enduring popularity. As such; RAF Leeming, the 25 Squadron Association and 25(F) themselves organised a charity photocall in aid of Help For Heroes inviting a number of aircraft and enthusiasts to attend.

With the unpredictable weather of the days before the event it remained uncertain what aircraft would arrive for the event. In the end, the enthusiast was treated to a myriad of international and national assets to photograph. Ranging from Dutch F-16's and German Tornado's to more rare items such as French Mirage F1's and German Phantoms. Not just modern aircraft were on display; examples of previous 25(F)Squadron aircraft were also available to photograph. Even 11(F)Squadron returned home with two of their Typhoons to mark the passing of their companion unit.

The event was superbly organised with all visiting aircraft positioned with photography in mind with minimal barriers and a relaxed atmosphere. The added bonus of having a Tornado on display in the QRA hanger with load outs displayed was a unique opportunity at an RAF base; usually seen more at European shows, especially in the Netherlands. This photocall was a testimony to the men and women of the Squadron and all the hard work they have put in since 1915. Sadly, very heavy rain early in the afternoon put a dampener on proceedings however, this could not put a damp note on the friendliness and approachability of both the visiting aircrews and the Squadron personnel on hand during the photocall. Their efforts made an excellent event even more successful.

The future of RAF Leeming is unclear, until a decision is made on Tranche 3 Typhoon and the number of F-35 that will be purchased nothing is certain. In the current climate of cost cutting, keeping an entire airfield open for a non-frontline aggressor Squadron and a SAR detachment may not escape the accountants pen. While the future may be uncertain, 25(F)Squadron has ensured their place in RAF history and in the memory of the enthusiast.

Andy Evans would wish to thank RAF Leeming, the 25 Squadron Association and 25(F)Squadron for hosting such an excellent event. For more information on 25(F)Squadron, feel free to visit their website. If you would like to see more photos from the event then please see the gallery section of this website!

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