RAF Typhoons prove ACE concept capability during Op Shader

Eurofighter Typhoon FRG4s from the 903 Expeditionary Air Wing at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, have forward deployed to an undisclosed location in the Middle East for Operation Blue Dragon, according to an October 15 release.

Operation Blue Dragon was performed by RAF Typhoons in support of Operation Shader, the UK’s combat mission to counter the Islamic State group, which was intended to prove the RAF’s capability of performing operationally on an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept.

The ACE concept involves forward deployed assets with minimal presence on the ground, with crews able to provide support such as aircraft arming, refuelling and maintenance. 

RAF Typhoon
An RAF-operated Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 in-flight. Note that the aircraft is equipped with AIM-120 AMRAAMs; Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs); Paveway IV precision-guided bombs and Brimstone air-to-ground missiles. Royal Air Force

Wg Cdr Dutch Holland, officer commanding 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, said: "Agile Combat Employment is about utilising our assets from RAF Akrotiri under 903 Expeditionary Air Wing to their maximum extent.

“In this example we have projected our forces, the RAF Typhoon FGR4, to a Forward Operating Base. We have undertaken this deployment and next time we will go for longer and perhaps further than this one,” Holland explained.

Meanwhile, Air Cdre Mark Farrell, air officer commanding 83 Expeditionary Air Group, said that Blue Dragon demonstrated the UK’s ability to respond under the ACE concept. "This operation is the first such deployment for 903 Expeditionary Air Wing and has enabled them to test how successful the aircraft and supporting personnel were able to operate in a new location and environment.

“The team have demonstrated the capability of conducting air operations at short notice at a Forward Operating Base and further demonstrates to our Coalition partners and Middle Eastern allies, the UK’s continued commitment to the region,” Farrell detailed.