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UK plans to create a Top Gun-style unit for RAF's pilots

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World Defense & Security News - United Kingdom
 
 
UK plans to create a Top Gun-style unit for RAF's pilots
 
United Kingdom's Royal Air Force is planning to create an elite unit of fighter pilots to boost its aerial combat skills to counter any potential threat, the British news paper Sunday Times said yesterday, Jan. 31. This new squadron is part of the expansion of the Royal Air Force (RAF)'s fleet of Typhoon jets, from five to seven squadrons, announced last November.
     
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The increase means each squadron can now specialise in one of several "prioritised" roles, The Sunday Times reported.

Some will be expert in hitting enemy troops with the precision Brimstone missile, while others will use Storm Shadow cruise missiles or air-to-air combat.

After two decades of mainly carrying out bombing missions against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, commanders have decided pilots need to boost their aerial combat skills to counter any potential threat from new Russian fighters that patrol Syria and eastern Europe.

Air Vice-Marshal Gary Waterfall, the head of the RAF's air combat group, this month identified what he termed the "Red Air" mission as a "prioritised" role.

Red Air was the nickname of the elite unit of instructors who posed as enemy fighters against students on the American navy's Top Gun fighter-pilot course, made famous in the 1986 Hollywood movie starring Tom Cruise.

The Typhoon crews will take over the "Red Air" role from 100 Squadron based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, which uses 1970s subsonic Hawk jets.

The crews will put other pilots through simulated fights, both in the air or on networked hi-tech simulators.

The news comes as the newspaper reports that British military and intelligence officers last week undertook a secret reconnaissance mission to Libya to plan RAF airstrikes against ISIS terrorists in the strife-torn north African state.