No. 17 Squadron RAF

No. 17 Squadron RAF
No. XVII Squadron RAF
17 Squadron badge
Active 1 February 1915 – 4 November 1919
1 April 1924 – 23 February 1948
11 February 1949 – 13 March 1951
1 June 1956 – 31 December 1969
1 September 1970 –
Role Air defence (Operational Evaluation)
Garrison/HQ RAF Coningsby
Motto "Excellere Contende" (Strive to excel)
Equipment Eurofighter Typhoon
A Gauntlet symbolizing armed strength and previous operation of the Gloster Gauntlet fighter in the 1930s.

No. 17 Squadron (sometimes written as No. XVII Squadron) is an active squadron of the Royal Air Force and the Operational Evaluation Unit for the Typhoon T.1 and F.2.



The first No. 17 Squadron was formed in the Royal Flying Corps in February 1915 at Gosport. It served in the Middle East. It claimed 26 aerial victories, and had two flying aces, future Air Marshal Sir Gerald Gibbs (RAF officer) and Gilbert W. M. Green, within its ranks.[1] After the war No. 691 Squadron RAF was renumbered as No. 17 Squadron.

In recent history the squadron has played a major part in the RAF forces in Germany operating Canberras, Phantoms, Jaguars and the Tornado.

No.17 Squadron re-equipped with twelve Jaguar aircraft, and assigned to SACEUR were declared operational at RAF Bruggen with conventional weapons and the British WE.177 nuclear weapon from 1976[2] to 1984.[3] Their role was in support of land forces in a high-intensity European war using conventional weapons initially, and tactical nuclear weapons if a conflict escalated. Some aircraft were to be held back in reserve from the conventional phase to ensure that sufficient aircraft survived the conventional phase to deliver the squadron's full stock of eight nuclear weapons.[4]

In 1984–85 the squadron re-equipped with twelve Tornado GR1 aircraft and eighteen WE.177 nuclear bombs,[5] and although the squadron's role remained unchanged, their Tornado aircraft were each able to carry two WE.177 bombs, and the ratio of weapons to aircraft at full strength increased to 1.5 : 1.

In 1990 - 1991 it played a significant role in the Gulf war when it was stationed at Al Muharraq Airbase in Bahrain. It had 12 GR1 Tornado Aircraft split between three Flight Lines (Snoopy AirWays, Triffid Airways & Gulf Airways). Whilst there it also hosted "The Gulf at Christmas" - A special morale boosting Christmas Service from the Snoopy Airways flight Line.

The squadron continued in this role until the WE.177 weapons were retired, and No. 17 Squadron relinquished its nuclear delivery capability at RAF Bruggen.[6]

The squadron temporarily disbanded in 2002.

Current role

As "No. XVII (Reserve) Squadron" it was reformed on 1 April 2005 at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to operate the Typhoon T.1 and F.2. It is the Operational Evaluation Unit for the type and is called the Typhoon Operational Evaluation Unit (TOEU).[7]

On initial entry to RAF service the squadron was reformed "as a Reserve Squadron" on 1 September 2002 at BAE Systems' Warton airfield where a special facility had been constructed. The Squadron relocated to RAF Coningsby on 1 April 2005 and was officially re-formed at its new base on 19 May 2005.[8] No. XVII(R) Squadron was joined at RAF Coningsby on 1 July 2005 by No. 29 Squadron, thus bringing to the end the Typhoon's "Case White" entry into service programme. An initial operational capability is expected to be established in 2007 by No. 3 Squadron.[7]

See also


External links

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