RAF says goodbye to squadron

A SOLITARY Harriet jet performed a flypast as the Royal Air Force said goodbye to an historic squadron yesterday.For almost 60 years, the RAF Regiment's 16 Squadron has provided vital ground base defence for troops across the world.

A SOLITARY Harriet jet performed a flypast as the Royal Air Force said goodbye to an historic squadron yesterday.

For almost 60 years, the RAF Regiment's 16 Squadron has provided vital ground base defence for troops across the world.

Hundreds of ex-servicemen and current personnel and their families marked the disbandment of the unit at RAF Honington with the handover of the squadron standard, a military parade, and salute.

It follows Ministry of Defence cuts announced in 2004, which will see Honington's ground defence Rapier missile systems being transferred to the Army.


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The cutbacks will eventually herald the winding up of four Rapier squadrons at Honington by 2008, which encompasses around 240 servicemen and women.

However, all of the personnel will be redeployed to other units at Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, and Uxbridge, Middlesex, whilst Honington is set to welcome a field squadron, comprising of 171 staff, from RAF St Mawgan, in Cornwell, in December.

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Group Captain Paul Burt, station commander, who served with 16 Squadron in Germany in the 1980s, said: “It is sad for that we are losing a number plated squadron, however it is not that sad in as much as some good comes out of it with people in the squadron being absorbed by other operational units, which are desperately needed in Iraq and Afghanistan at the moment.

“We are treating this as a celebration of its history because its sprit and ethos will live on.”

He added that the current military comings and goings at Honington would be “almost unnoticeable” to the local community.

The squadron was formed in 1948 with the motto All Points We Defend and has since provided protection to troops and military assets at airports and military bases in conflict zones such as Northern Ireland, Falkland Islands, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been at Honington, the home of the RAF Regiment, since 1993.

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