Archive for the ‘Current Squadron Issues’ Category

Valedictory message from Wg Cdr Daz Rawlins

13 April, 2017

Another page turned in the history of XXIV Squadron at the end of March this year as the old and new OC’s said their goodbyes and hellos. Here is the valedictory message from Daz Rawlins to Association Members.

OC XXIV with Centenary Cup

OC XXIV with Centenary Cup

 

Dear XXIV Sqn Association.

Well, it is time to say farewell to all of you and so I thought I would send a note to you all and thank you personally for the overwhelming support the XXIV Squadron Association has given to me during my time as Officer Commanding. I handed over the Squadron to Wg Cdr Gareth Burdett on Thu 30 March 2017 during an afternoon event which started with a Squadron photograph outside an A400M aircraft and finished in Witney for some late drinks. There are so many memories I will take away with me. I still very much remember my first day in Command on the 22 January 2015. Since then, the Squadron has grown, evolved and remained at the forefront of some of the most notable successes at RAF Brize Norton. Over the past 2 years there is much to be proud of.
XXIV Squadron has received more Honours and Awards than any other squadron at RAF Brize Norton and received a healthy quota of promotions, most notably for the SNCO cohort. The Squadron has been at the centre of some major Defence Engagement initiatives; witness delivery of a C130J tactical capability to Royal Air Force Oman and ongoing discussions with the Royal Bahraini Air Force to deliver initial C130J training to them.

We have hosted everyone from the Defence Secretary to CAS to key members of the RAF Senior Leadership team and how could I forget the Arch Bishop of Canterbury! We have strengthened relationships with 16 Air Assault Brigade and Scott Air Force base in the US via our A400M capability. We have accelerated A400M Force Generation despite some programme challenges. We have been innovative in our approach and thinking and re-designed the C130J OCU Cse and the Atlas OCU Cse driving forward with training efficiencies at every opportunity. We won the best team award during the 2016 BRAVO’s – awarded to Maintainer Training Section (MTS). We ‘cleaned up’ at RIAT in 2015 with the top 2 awards – The prestigious ‘Spirit of The Meet’ awarded by CAS and the Concourse D’Elegance for the static display.

We have articulated a strategy for the future which shows the true benefit of training delivery under the Air Mobility Operational Conversion Unit – there are 3 key areas. The first is to provide further support to International Defence Training a vital Defence Task which underpins many of the bi-lateral relationships we have with other air forces – XXIV Squadron is leading with this work for the Air Mobility Force. The second is to develop our thinking regarding collective training. Consider networked simulation where our simulators are able to speak to Land and Maritime elements, able to connect internationally and able to speak to each other – for example C130J and Atlas simulated inter-fly.

Finally – the Squadron will continue to strengthen the case for a C17 Through-Life-Training Solution. One day we hope to be able to fully support 99 Squadron further develop a tactical capability for the C17 – after all – delivering safe, efficient and specialist training is what we do best.

Defence Engagement has been a major part of the Squadron which I will always remember. The Association has done a wonderful job in maintaining the very strong links with the town of Ligny-Thilloy; I will always remember the Atlas flypast of the Hawker 100 ceremony! Equally, the ties we have with 187 Folgore are special to me and Gareth is hoping to visit Ligny-Thilloy and Pisa later on this year. The re-dedication ceremony at St Clement’s Dane RAF Church where we unveiled the new Squadron floor plaque was a first for the Service. Finally – who can forget the Squadron Centenary? To have command of a Squadron during such a special time has been a privilege. To sit next to HRH the Princess Royal for an entire dinner – unforgettable!

So, XXIV Squadron is now in the safe hands of Wg Cdr Gareth Burdett and the best team of Flt Cdrs and Section Leaders I have ever worked with in 26 years of Service. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the seat and my application for membership of the Association will be coming your way very soon. I wish each and every one of you the very best and hope to see you all in the near future.

In Omnia Parati.

Daz Rawlins

More St Clement Danes photos

30 September, 2016

We have just had a few more photos sent in by Chris and Di Carrington of the dedication ceremony at St Clement Danes which was held on Sunday 11th September.

Both the Squadron personnel and Association Members are in Sunday Best for this unique occasion. If you are in London and can make a visit, you will not be disappointed.

Close up of Slate Badge

Close up of Slate Badge

 

OC and Association Members

OC and Association Members

 

Sqn Standard in the Entrance

Sqn Standard in the Entrance

 

Squadron Group outside Church

Squadron Group outside Church

 

XXIV’s new badge in St Clement Danes

20 September, 2016
New Sqn Slate

New Sqn Slate Badge

Here is a repost of a letter of thanks to our President from Wg Cdr D G Rawlins RAF, Officer Commanding XXIV Squadron regarding the service held in St Clement Danes on September 11th.

Dear Keith

I just thought I’d take this opportunity to thank the Association for their kind generosity in funding a significant part of the Squadron Floor Plaque. The Re-Dedication ceremony (the first in RAF History) at St Clement Danes was a fantastic occasion and was commendably supported by a cross-section of Squadron personnel augmented by enthusiastic Association members.

I was very proud to have been offered the chance to stand alongside Reverend David Osborn during the re-dedication in front of the Squadron Standard with the beautiful sounds from the fantastic choir filling the church. It was also a pleasure to talk to our Association members during our small ‘social’ afterwards. Sadly, afternoon drinking no longer agrees with me and I slept soundly on the coach on the way back to RAF Brize Norton.

Once again, please thank the Association for their continued support and I look forward to seeing you on 1 October when we will support you all at our Squadron.

In Omnia Parati

Daz Rawlins

 

Latest update – Dedication of XXIV Squadron Slate Badge – Sun 11 Sep 2016

23 August, 2016
St Clement Danes Slates

St Clement Danes Slates

 

The Squadron contact for this project has recently updated us with the order and timings  of events for the re-dedication of the XXIV Squadron Slate Badge at St Clement Danes on Sunday 11 September.

Start of service 11:00 hrs; End of service 12:00 hrs. During this period the Squadron. will parade the standard.

At the end of the service 24 Squadron Association Members attending will be invited to have a glass of port with the Squadron.

If anyone has any other questions they should contact Flt. Lt. Sabrina Sheikh  on 24 Squadron as she is tasked with managing the dedication.

Her e-mail is  Sabrina.sheikh179@mod.uk

Re-Dedication of XXIV Squadron Slate Badge – Sun 11 Sep 2016

16 July, 2016

The Squadron contact for this project, Sgt George Slater has  informed us that the re-dedication of the XXIV Sqn Stone at St Clement Danes will take place on Sunday 11 September. More details on timings etc to follow. 

They sincerely hope that some of the XXIV Sqn Association will be able to attend this event, especially given the substantial contribution that the Association made towards the cost.

Squadron Update from OC XXIV

28 March, 2016
Sqn Colours

Squadron  Standard

Reproduced below is a letter from the Officer Commanding XXIV Squadron, Wing Commander Daz Rawlins, to all Association Members, with the latest Squadron news update.

Dear XXIV Squadron Association Members.

It hardly seems a heart-beat since the splendid Centenary celebrations back last year but much has happened on the Sqn in the 6 month period.  I thought I would take this opportunity to give you a snap shot of what has been keeping XXIV Squadron busy and busy we have been! Excuse the absence of full names and ranks for OPSEC reasons particularly if you post this on your Blog.

Following the departure of our previous Squadron Association representative (Rocky) to ETPS we have had a re-shuffle and decided to send you Charlie, an improved and far prettier version of Rocky who also happens to be one of our most respected, diplomatic and personable Air Loadmasters on the Air Mobility Force. Together with Hoggy (No2 I/C) and George (another excellent Air Loadmaster) Charlie will be our front-of-house for the XXIV Sqn Association Engagement Team and hopefully you will have already seen the benefits of this initiative.

Looking to the future, we are delighted to have been given the details of the Summer Social on the 1st June 2016 and although I am on leave, I am hoping my wife will issue me with a pass to attend!  Notwithstanding this, we will do our utmost to support.

The EGM date of the 1st Oct is firmly in our diary and we have recently suggested you the use of the Atlas Building and Conference Room.  I would be delighted to formally offer you this location; it is mobility friendly, warm and comfortable for you to enjoy.  In addition, my team will seek to run the Simulators on the day.  I would respectively mention that there are steep steps to the Simulators and because of Health and Safety I could only offer this to those who are not of limited-mobility.  However, for anyone who falls outside that bracket, I will arrange something equally as exciting. Finally, our Squadron shop will be stocked, open and ready to fleece every available Association member! I have just ordered some red and black Sqn Lanyards for our RAF ID Cards which most definitely identify XXIV Sqn members from about 100 yds and of course, we still have limited stocks of Centenary Coins, T Shirts and our new Sqn print displaying the C130J, Atlas and C17 on it.

Before I get to the 2016 Ligny-Thilloy Hawker expedition, I must tell you about some recent correspondence from the Air Staff.   The 28 October 2016 will mark the 100th anniversary day for the death of former German fighter pilot Oswald BOELCKE who served during WWI on the Western Front and died in a crash after colliding with another German aircraft during an air combat with British fighter pilots. The Tactical Air Wing 31 “BOELCKE” and the independent tradition community BOELCKE have developed the idea of erecting a plain memorial stone in front of the town hall of the French City BAPAUME (BOELCKE crashed nearby that town) which should remember both Oswald BOELCKE and the historical date. By commemorating Oswald BOELCKE people should not only remember an outstanding fighter pilot but all fallen soldiers of both nations. The rescue of a young Frenchman by Oswald BOELCKE on 28 Aug 1915 demonstrated that even during war times there was still room for humanness among the nations.

The German Air Force has already requested the formal permission by the French Air Force. The respective mayor and the assemblymen of the electoral district Pas-de-Calais valued the project and have both given their general approval. Afterwards two formal meetings between German and French representatives have already taken place in October and December 2015. As of now it is intended to hold a small ceremony with delegations of both the German Air Force and the Armée dé l’Air on 28 October 2016.  However, since Oswald BOELCKE dies during air combat with British fighter pilots (not to forget the Royal Flying Corps dropped a wreath a day later “ To the memory of Captain Boelke, a brave and chivalrous foe” both Germany and France would highly welcome the participation of a RAF delegation on this occasion.  XXIV Squadron has been chosen to receive this honour and I will lead a small party out to the event.

Of course, the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and of Hawker being shot down is a significant event in the Squadron calendar.  The 11th November event is firmly in our thinking and Charlie and George will work up viable options as well as considering some of your excellent suggestions.  You can assume the Squadron Standard will attend providing I can get clearance to allow it to leave the UK.  I will also seek to gain permission for a flypast on the Friday but because this is a working day, it rather depends on the training programme.

Optimistically, I would like to think we have a strong case given the ample notice you have given.  We will tie in the Squadron’s contribution with a wider Staff Ride to study the Somme so it is likely we will be out in the area all week probably staying in the same town as yourselves.  My intent is then to travel directly to over to Pisa to join in with the ‘Folgore’ Annual commemorative ceremony with Col Bertoncello.  When we firm up plans for this I will send out the details.

You will already be aware of our initiative to replace the commemorative welsh slate in the RAF Church at St Clement Danes in London.  One of our Junior Officers (Samantha) is championing the project to replace this at a total cost of £880.  Having recently viewed the slate, it most certainly needs replacing.  The plan is to hold a small consecration Service at a suitable date when the replacement slate is available.  This event will be open up to all Squadron and Association members who are available to attend.

One of the Engagement Team has approached the Association for financial assistance, however small,  but I totally accept that your generosity in commissioning the Centenary Silver Bowl was considerable.  Of note, the Centenary Bowl still shines brightly and has been deployed during several Dining In Nights!  Although I formally thanked you in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal and following your AGM,  I would like to repeat my thanks to the Association once again for the splendid gift and appreciated generosity.

So on to business!  I started by saying how busy the Squadron has been over the past 6 months.  Here is a snap shot.

‘A’ Flight, C130J conversion has been developing the new C130J Course which will see an ab-initio pilot, straight from 45R Squadron, achieve Tactical Air Transport (TAC AT) proficiency within 6 months of arriving on the Squadron.  This is a significant venture and one which will see the C130J Force be in a position to talent spot individuals for more specialist duties at a much earlier stage.  This ‘cradle-to-grave’ approach is pioneering for the Force and runs alongside a Qualified Pilot Instructor / Qualified Role Instructor (QPI/QRI) scheme aimed at giving our non-QFI instructors a recognised, Central Flying School (CFS) accredited qualification.  We have just has this signed off by CFS after months of hard work.  In addition, A Flt are developing 3 Engine Take-Off procedure for the  C130J and Regulated Take-Off Graphs for high-terrain locations such as Bardufoss in Norway.

‘B’ Flight has been equally as busy.  Development of a new Defensive capability has been a main effort as well as delivering routine Tactical Courses including Air-to-Air Receiving to the Frontline.  Later on in the year, they will be delivering some Tactical Training to the Royal Oman Air Force as directed by the ACAS so you will appreciate much of their work has been directed by the very highest levels.  Like A Flight, they will be involved heavily in the new C130J Course Design. In addition, the SDSR will see some new capabilities come to the C130J Force which I will brief you on during our next meet. The Flight recently deployed to Scotland for a Tactical Exercise (TARTAN SPIRIT) and will do the same for the whole of May for another Exercise in California.

‘C’ Flight Atlas Conversion continue to train crews for LXX Squadron and currently have 5 Courses running.  There have been some interesting challenges for Atlas, specifically an Engine related issue has required the careful allocation of flying hours to the Force.  This has slowed momentum slightly but the plan for the Squadron is to continue as directed and run with the current Course schedule.  The Squadron will return to RIAT this year to defend the top award we won in 2015 and you will see an Atlas and C130J fly in formation (line astern) at the 2016 Queens Birthday Flypast (QBF).  XXIV Squadron will co-crew both aircraft.

Of note, Seb, a ‘C’ Flight Pilot was awarded a Green Flying Endorsement this week for his efforts in landing a Lancaster with an Engine Fire!  Yes – Seb is a BBMF Pilot in his spare time but don’t feel too sorry for him.  He loves the attention!  Finally, the Atlas Cargo Hold Trainer will be Ready for Training (RfT) in August 2016 and the 2nd Simulator will be finished in June.

‘D’ Flight Training Support,  who also has Maintainer Trainer School (MTS) in its Command Chain has made significant progress in several areas.  They are the foundations of the Squadron’s training structure and the Air Mobility Force Commander (1*) has recently endorsed the concept for XXIV Squadron to become the Air Mobility Training of Excellence.  This is significant and not only is reflects the hard work ‘D’ Flight has done to demonstrate the training benefits of such as concept but it also highlights the high regard the Squadron is held in.

XXIV Squadron now owns every Air Mobility Platform Training Officer including 32 Squadron’s (146) and 10 Squadron’s (Voyager).  If this wasn’t a sign of things to come, the C17 Though Life Training Solution which may see a new C17 Schoolhouse at RAF Brize Norton in the future which is likely to be managed by XXIV Squadron!  My plans for total training dominance and takeover are certainly firming-up!  On a more serious note, it is the right and proper way to proceed.

The provision of an external and specialised training organisation to support the Frontline Squadrons is vitally important from an Air Safety perspective.  It provides assurance at all levels and makes XXIV Squadron solely accountable for the training and standards.  MTS, commanded by Samantha, still delivers Engineering Training to the C130J, Atlas and C17 Forces.  They have recently sailed through an Internal Audit making a huge improvement from last year. The Flying elements of the Squadron did equally as well during their annual CFS visit.

It is difficult to articulate just how busy we are on the Squadron at present in such a short update.  The Squadron is front and centre of all high-profile engagement on the Station.  In the past 6 weeks alone, we have had Mr Fallon, the Defence Secretary visit. The Indonesian Defence Minister and a French 4* General have all spent much time with us.

The Royal Air Force Oman Training I previously mentioned is vitally important for the RAF/RAFO enduring relationship and a number of other countries have expressed an interest in XXIV Squadron training.  The Squadron you will have served on is completely different in structure and purpose but the Core Values and Ethos remain the same.  This is typical of the Royal Air Force in general where I think the challenges we face, particularly regarding global counter-terrorism, are unprecedented, asymmetric and have no rules.  There is no longer a single post which cannot deliver anything less than 110% at all times.

So finally, I wish all of you a very Happy Easter Break and look forward to seeing you in the near future.  Please feel free to call round for a coffee any time and forgive me if the lines of communication are not always as fluid as they should be from our side.  We are genuinely working relentlessly to stay afloat but the Association are always in our thoughts. Excuse any typo’s.  I’ve given my Flight Commanders some Easter leave so the usual sanity check of my prose is just not possible!

In Omnia Parati.

Wing Commander Daz Rawlins, Officer Commanding XXIV Squadron.

St. Clement Danes Squadron Crest Slate Appeal

18 March, 2016
St Clement Danes Slates

St Clement Danes Slates

The XXIV Squadron ‘slate badge’ at St. Clement Danes Church is worn almost beyond recognition. The present Squadron Commander Wg. Cdr Daz Rawlins is keen to replace this slate badge.

This is quite a costly venture currently estimated at approximately £900.  The Squadron will be raising approximately £400 and have approached the Association for a contribution if possible towards this cause.

The Association would be prepared to add a small sum to the “fund” but the Association Committee is asking if any members of the Association would like to make a contribution towards the replacement of the ‘slate badge’. We are aware that some members already donate towards the running of the Association but there may be others who would consider this a worthy cause and would be willing to donate.

The reason why the Association fund can’t donate £500 is because the recent purchase of the Centenary Cup and upcoming costs likely to be required during the Hawker VC centenary in France.

Once the slate is ready to be installed, we would hope to consecrate this at a ceremony at St Clement Danes to which members would be encouraged to come

Cheques may be made payable to “24 Sqn Association” and sent to the Treasurer

Mr. R Hale, 14 Weiss Rd., London, SW15 1DH

Many thanks

Sam Wright (Chairman XXIV Sqn. Assn.)

£369 million MOD Hercules support deal sustains 1,200 UK jobs

21 January, 2016
Hercules C130J - Crown Copyright

Hercules C130J – Crown Copyright

The Ministry of Defence has agreed a £369 million deal for the continued in-service support of the RAF Hercules C-130J fleet, securing around 1,200 UK jobs until 2022.

The Hercules aircraft – one of the RAF’s workhorses – are a vital part of its transport fleet, carrying troops, supplies and equipment in support of operations around the world. Recently, they have been involved in humanitarian relief efforts in Iraq, Nepal and South Sudan.

Click for full article

End of Year Squadron Summary

17 December, 2015

Here is a brief summary from our part time reporter on site at Brize Norton to sum up 2015 for the Squadron:-

“After another successful year, members of XXIV Squadron have been able to enjoy the annual review, Christmas lunch and Station celebrations. The theme for 2016 looks to be tactical, with work getting under way on both A400M Atlas, C17 Globemaster and on training to increase the number of C130J tier 3 crews.Training processes developed by XXIV are now being rolled out to the rest of 2 Group and indeed in some cases the Royal Air Force as the benchmark standard. The Squadron is growing at a rate faster than they could have ever imagined”

Till our next meet up in 2016.

Silver Vaults visit is a job well done.

30 January, 2015

The planned visit on Thursday 29th January to the Silver Vaults in Chancery Lane by the Association Committee to select an appropriate piece of silverware to commemorate the Squadron’s Centenary turned out to be a complete success. Long term planning that started some 10 years ago to put aside £100 each year has paid off.

We selected a Sterling Silver trophy cup, having a plain round body with a shaped rim, two scroll side handles, with applied reeded borders, and sitting on a round pedestal foot looked perfect and a fitting item. It was made by the Fattorini & Sons of Sheffield in 1922, almost as old as the Squadron.

No pictures are being posted at the moment until the engraving is complete and the piece can be seen in its final splendour.