RAF Lossiemouth frees jets from the big freeze to allow training

Tornado GR.4 departing Lossiemouth for a routine training sortie / © Philip Stevens

Tornado GR.4 departing Lossiemouth for a routine training sortie / © Philip Stevens

Posted By Philip Stevens

With snow continuing to fall in Moray this week, work has continued at RAF Lossiemouth to maintain the flying programme and ensure minimum disruption to the final operational preparations for 12 (Bomber) Squadron who deploy to Afghanistan in January.

Work began at the end of last week when all station personnel, along with snow clearing vehicles, were detailed to keep one of the runways clear on Thursday and Friday and throughout the weekend. This week, personnel have been deployed on a daily basis to form a snow clearance team and their efforts are working - flying has been maintained.

Even a few days closure of the runways can have an impact on the flying programme as Wing Commander Steve Ward, Officer Commanding Operations Wing explained:

"We schedule flying on the station very tightly. Our current priorities at RAF Lossiemouth are 12 (Bomber) Squadron who are currently preparing for deployment to Kandahar in January to support ground operations.

Also 617 Sqn who hold a contingent capability for operations in other areas of the world, and XV(R) Sqn, an Operational Conversion Unit who are continually launching flying training sorties to train new aircrew for operational squadrons at both RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth.

"We have to ensure that all three squadrons maintain a suitable level of flying hours each month to provide the correct level of training and ultimately operational capability".

In order for flying operations to continue safely snow and ice has to be cleared from the runway as quickly as possible. Unfortunately the snow clearing vehicles aren't always able to clear the ice that is close to the runway's surface so this week over 600 personnel armed with shovels had to manually clear it. They also had to dig aircraft out of the hangars and ensure that the dispersal ways were safe as well.

Flight Lieutenant Faye Emslie is in charge of the Training Development Flight at RAF Lossiemouth and has been one of the many personnel helping to clear the runway. She said: "This is certainly different to the force development activities I usually oversee but everyone has been in high spirits as we know we're doing this to support operations. Having said that, you do realise how long the runway is when you have to remove every bit of ice from the surface!"

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Source: M O D Press Office Scotland

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