Royal Auxiliary Air Force History
1979 to 2000
RENAISSANCE AND EXPANSION
SPECIALIST ROLE SQUADRONS
In 1979, in response to heightened tension following the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, it was decided to form three RAuxAF Regiment Field Squadrons on a trial basis, to provide local defence to key front-line airfields in the UK. The trial proved successful, and two more squadrons followed in 1982 and a sixth in 1983. Meanwhile, studies had shown that both the movements and the aeromedical evacuation trades would need reinforcing in the event of any major conflict. This was highlighted by the experience of the Falklands conflict in 1982.
Consequently, a specialised Movements Squadron and an Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron were formed in 1982 and 1983 respectively and, following the conclusion of operations in the South Atlantic, a Light AA Squadron was formed, using radar-controlled weapons captured from the Argentinians. During the mid-1980s four Airfield Defence Flights were formed at selected airfields and HQs, together with a second Light AA Squadron to provide point defence and guard key installations.
In April 1985 a seventh Auxiliary squadron was raised at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, to man radar-controlled 35mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns captured from the Fuerza Aerea Argentina. In 1989 a second air defence squadron was formed at the same station with the aim of introducing Rapier ground-to-air missiles into the RAuxAF Regiment on a cadre basis.
The Gulf War in 1990 saw both the Movements and the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadrons mobilised, but in the aftermath of that conflict, with the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the end of the Cold War, one of the RAuxAF Regiment Field Squadrons and both Light AA Squadrons were disbanded, as were all of the Airfield Defence Flights in 1993.
In 1994 the WRAF was disbanded, as was the WRAuxAF. Female officers and other ranks became members of the RAF and RAuxAF respectively.
On April 1,1997, the RAuxAF was privileged to embrace into its organisation four new squadrons formed from the war-appointable elements of the RAFVR under the provisions of the new Reserve Forces Legislation. The amalgamation was marked by a ceremony at the RAF College, Cranwell, which resulted in the formation of a single volunteer reserve force for the RAF. Thus the prestigious histories of these two reserve forces were brought together.
ROLE SUPPORT SQUADRONS
The expansion plans for the volunteer reserves include the formation of Role Support Squadrons (RSSs), the first of which was formed at RAF Benson in October 1996, to augment the Support Helicopter force.
The three MHUs formed in the immediate aftermath of the disbandments of 1957-61 continued to provide operational support to the RAF Mar itime Force at RAF Northolt (No MHU), in Edinburgh (No 2 MHU) an RAF St Mawgan (No 3 MHU). The MHUs were the forerunners of the RSS concept.
During 1998 four additional RSSs were formed; the Offensive Support Squadron (OSRSS) at Cottesmore, the Strike Attack Support Squadron (SASS) 2620 (County of Norfolk) Squadron at Marham, the Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refuelling Support Squadron (ATARSS) 2624 (County of Oxford) Squadron at Brize Norton/ Lyneham and the Air Defence Support Squadron (ADSS) at Leeming.
On October 1, 1998, a RAuxAF Ground Base Air Defence (GBAD) squadron was established by re-forming 2623 (East Anglia) Sqn at RAF Honington. It will augment the Rapier FSC force. In addition, two Training and Standardisation Squadrons were formed at RAF Halton and RAF Shawbury.
In 1994, after 37 years, the RAF reintroduced reserve aircrew on a trial basis. All of these aircrew were ex-regulars with recent experience, and comprised both pilots and other aircrew categories. Following a successful trial at RAF Lyneham in 1996 it was decided to establish nine Lockheed C-130 Hercules Reserve Crews as members of the RAuxAF. The crews were to be selected from previous members of the Hercules Force who had retired from the RAF. In 1997 there was a major expansion in the numbers of RAuxAF aircrew flying in the helicopter, maritime, air transport and air defence roles.
During 1997 reserve aircrew were also flying the Puma helicopter at RAF Odiham and the Tornado F3 at Leeming, and serving as rear-end crew in the Nimrod Mk 3 at RAF Kinloss. Most of the pilots were employed by civilian airlines.