The UK Royal Air Force’s No. 72 Squadron was formally ‘stood up’ during a short ceremony at the squadron’s headquarters at RAF Valley on Nov. 28.
Air Vice Marshal ‘Bunny’ James, the Air Officer Commanding No. 22 Group RAF and the officer responsible for all military flying training in the UK, took the salute during the formal march-on of the 72 Squadron Standard.
Air Vice Marshal James said:
“I started my RAF flying career on No. 72 squadron back in the 1980’s, so it means a great deal to me to be here today. What the squadron and RAF Valley are doing is critical to UK defence. Training fighter pilots is a national endeavour. Many congratulations on getting to this point and moving the military flying training system forwards. It’s been a real privilege to be here today to see No. 72 squadron take the next generation of fighter pilots towards the front line.”
No. 72 Squadron Royal Air Force was formed in June 1917 as a Royal Flying Corps squadron, serving in the Middle East. Disbanded after World War One, the re-armament programme before the outbreak of World War Two saw the squadron re-formed in 1937. During the war, the squadron – equipped with the iconic Spitfire fighter aircraft – played a key role in the Battle of Britain. Active service in the North African, Italian and North-West European campaigns followed.
Post-war, No.72 Squadron continued to serve as a fighter squadron into the jet age, operating Vampire, Meteor and Javelin fighters in the home defence role. In 1961, the squadron took on a new role flying helicopters, operating the Bristol Belvedere, Wessex and Puma. In 2002, the squadron moved into fixed-wing flying again, operating the Tucano at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in the basic flying training role. With the retirement of the Tucano and the move of basic flying training to RAF Valley, the squadron is now operating the new Texan T1 advanced turboprop trainer aircraft.
Officer Commanding No. 72 Squadron, Wing Commander Chris Ball said:
“After World War Two, No. 72 squadron flew early jet fighters at the very dawn of jet aviation. They were pioneers. We can draw parallels with that era of innovation and discovery with today; introducing a brand-new aircraft into RAF service and developing a new way to train our fighter pilots using the latest technology. I am sure that the current personnel on No. 72 squadron – military, civilian and industry partners – will take on the ethos and heritage of their forebears to take the squadron into a successful new chapter.”
RAF Valley Station Commander, Group Captain Chris Moon said:
“It is my great privilege to be Officer Commanding RAF Valley and No 4 Flying Training School at this exciting time. RAF Valley is the home of military fast jet training, and alongside Nos. IV and XXV squadrons we are training the next generation. The whole RAF Valley team – military and civilian – have worked extremely hard to introduce Texan into service and establish No. 72 squadron here today, and I am immensely proud of them.”