British Royal Air Force (RAF) Lossiemouth has welcomed its fourth operational Eurofighter Typhoon squadron to boost its mission to protect UK and Nato airspace.
The RAF officially stood up IX(B) Squadron at a ceremonial parade and flypast at RAF Lossiemouth.
In a statement, the service said that the personnel and aircraft of the squadron will be at the heart of the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Force.
The operational squadron will be responsible for taking off within minutes of an alert being triggered.
The standing up of the squadron comes on the day RAF Lossiemouth celebrates its 80th anniversary.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the service will paint some of the IX(B) Squadron’s aircraft in distinctive markings to identify them as training ‘adversaries’, in their role as ‘aggressors’.
The Typhoon jets will be tasked to provide a sterner training test to RAF and Nato fast-jet pilots.
During the training, they will act as opposing aircraft and match the speed and manoeuvrability of the RAF and Nato pilots while using real-world dogfighting and air combat tactics against them.
RAF Chief of the Air Staff air chief marshal Stephen Hillier said: “RAF Lossiemouth has and will continue to play a key role in the defence of the UK, being ready to intercept potential airborne threats 24/7 and in addition shortly becoming home to our nine new submarine-hunting P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
“These will work with our Typhoon force to patrol far out into the Atlantic protecting the UK’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent and two new aircraft carriers.”
Hillier noted that the transition of IX Squadron from Tornado to Typhoon is a key part of the expansion of RAF Lossiemouth. The expansion will increase the number of service personnel at the QRA station to approximately 2,300.
QRA is intended to ensure the entire UK air defence system is on standby around the clock throughout the year to respond to threats.
Whenever an alert is received, aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby are deployed to protect northern and southern UK airspace respectively.
Typhoon fighter aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth have been scrambled four times in recent months in response to incidents of Russian bombers approaching UK airspace.
Last month, RAF Typhoons arrived in Estonia to begin their four-month mission to protect Nato Baltic airspace.