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RAF100 - May reflections

Centenary of the Royal Air Force 
In support of RAF100, BAE Systems is communicating 100 unique and compelling stories and reflections from 1st April to mid-October.  Together these insights support the RAF and demonstrate our support for RAF100 in particular. Below, you'll find the reflections and stories we shared in May. 

22/100 - RAF Club book

 
RAF Club book

 
Throughout the past century, the bravery, innovation and dedication of the Royal Air Force has generated many compelling images.
 
On May 29, the RAF Club, an institution with a history as long as the force it represents, publishes a book featuring imagery which captures the spirit of the first century of service.
 
We are proud to have sponsored the publication of the book and contributed many images showing the aircraft designed and built by the companies which make up our proud legacy with the RAF.
 
They include exclusive images by artist, Mark Bromley, featuring icons of our history including the Avro Lancaster, English Electric Canberra, Supermarine Spitfire and even one depicting the F-35 Lightning at RAF Marham, the station it will arrive at in early June.

 


21/100 - From a hop to a Hawk

 
Image showing Blackburn Monoplane
 
The beaches which stretch along the North Yorkshire coast from Saltburn and Marske do not look like the location for aviation history.
 
However, if you had been walking on the sands at Marske back in 1910, you would have seen engineer, Robert Blackburn, tearing across the sands at break-neck speed in a high-wing monoplane complete with an engine and a cane garden chair as a pilot's seat set aboard a three-wheeled platform.
 
The aircraft, known simply as the First Monoplane, had been designed and built by Blackburn in the corner of leased premises in Leeds before being transported to the coast for trials.
 
On the days before, it managed an occasional hop off the ground but its only recorded flight lasted for around a minute and ended in a crash where the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
 
The first reference in industry journal Flight referred to "a mishap" which befell the young pioneer.
It added: "He was running the machine along the beach when, through skidding into a hole, the tyre of one of the wheels came off.
 
"Mr Blackburn at once cut off the ignition, and, as a result of the sudden stoppage, he was thrown from his seat."
 
He confirmed the aircraft had been in the air before the crash, which destroyed his invention.
Not to be deterred, the pioneering engineer established the Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company in 1914 which he set up initially in Leeds before moving to the northern bank of the River Humber in Brough, East Yorkshire in 1916.
 
Today, the site remains at the heart of our military aircraft business and manufactures parts for the Hawk, the 'flying classroom' which has prepared thousands of Royal Air Force pilots for life in a fast jet cockpit.
It is also the engineering hub which supports the global fleet of Hawk, the world's most proven advanced jet trainer.
 
Brough also has the honour of being the location with one of the longest histories for continuous aviation manufacturing in the world, celebrating its own centenary two years ago.
 
Its heritage boasts many other aircraft names which saw service with the RAF including the Blackburn Buccaneer, a carrier-borne strike aircraft which initially entered service with the Royal Navy and then, in 1968, with the RAF.
 
The Beverley, a heavy transport aircraft built by Blackburn, was also operated by the RAF Transport Command for a decade from 1957.

 


20/100 - How many training hours did you do?

 
Graphic created for RAF100 for reflection 20/100
 
When the Royal Air Force began its journey towards training its fast jet pilots using synthetics, it did so partnering with our business.
 
Today, the pilots at the forefront of defending the UK, have synthetics at the heart of their training for life in the cockpit of a fast jet like the Eurofighter Typhoon.
 
At RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby, the stations from which Typhoon operates on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) protection over the skies of the UK, we have installed Typhoon flight simulation training systems and provide training.
 
Earlier this year, we completed the expansion of our Typhoon Training Facility at RAF Lossiemouth to enable pilots to train in a formation of four aircraft, known as a four-ship.
 
This saw the installation of two additional Emulated Deployable Cockpit Trainers (EDCT), or flight simulators, to brought this capability to the station in Scotland.
 
Previously crews would have to travel to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to carry out such synthetic training or 'live fly', which involves tying up aircraft resources, such as aircraft, fuel and support assets.
 
The additional simulators provide a crucial training pattern for an important operational technique.
 
This builds on the training pipeline which ensures pilots are ready for the frontline which includes Hawk, the flying classroom which puts students at the controls of the latest radar, weapons systems and defensive aids simulation technology.
 
The world's most proven advanced jet trainer delivers a seamless transition in to the Operational Conversion Unit, where pilots transferring from Hawk get their first hands-on experience on Typhoon.
 
Initially pilots carry out 75 per cent synthetically, delivering savings in terms of time, cost and operational resources, to prepare them for frontline squadrons, when 75 per cent of their training is live flying.
 
Currently, we deliver 12,000 of synthetic flying each year, growing to 18,000 over the next four years.

 


19/100 - Leyland Veterans' Cafe

 
Leyland Veterans' Cafe

RAF100

 
When the Royal British Legion shut in his town, former soldier Phil Burton knew something had to be done to support the veterans of the area.
 
The former Royal Artillery Lance Bombardier approached South Ribble Borough Council in Leyland, Lancashire, looking for a way he could help.
 
In April 2017, the first Leyland Veterans' Cafe opened in the town with more than 30 people, including 20 veterans, turning out to meet with each other.
 
Not only did it bring together what Phil describes as "the family" of ex-military personnel, it enabled them to meet with representatives of support organisations.
 
Having initially been supported by a grant from the council, Phil approached community investment team at our Air business, which employs around 10,000 people close to the town, for support to continue running the cafe.
 
Phil explained: "When people are in the Forces, there is a brotherhood which the military depends upon to get the job done, but when people leave the service they do not always have this and that is when problems can develop.
 
"The cafe was an idea which began with a simple ambition to help bring the family of the military - whether they served in the Navy, Army or RAF - back together in our community.
 
"Initially, we piloted the idea with the support of the council and quickly we had more than 50 people turning up every month, so we approached BAE Systems and asked for their support to keep it going.
"Now we are in to our second year and BAE Systems has extended its support to allow us to run the cafe twice-a-month - I cannot thank them enough, we simply could not do what we do without them.”
 
The café is now held on the first and third Saturdays of every month from 10am at Roccoco, Chapel Brow, Leyland.
 
In January, the success of the cafe saw Phil given a 'Point of Light Award' by the Prime Minister Theresa May for his role in tackling loneliness, part of the work of cross-party parliamentary Loneliness Commission set up by Jo Cox, the MP murdered in 2016.
 
The commission is now led by Seema Kennedy, the Conservative MP for South Ribble, and her parliamentary colleague, Labour MP Rachel Reeves.
 
In 2017, our community investments totalled more than £11m supporting active service personnel, veterans and their families, inspiring young people to consider STEM subjects and careers and working to support the communities within which we operate.
 
We also have strong ties with armed forces charities and organisations both through financial support and the volunteering of our employees across the world.
 
In the UK, we are proud to be a founder donor to the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) which is due to open in 2018, having committed £5m over five years.

 


18/100 - Schools roadshow

 
Image taken at a schools roadshow visit in 2018. Children have raised hands, and the headline states
 
In 2005, the Royal Air Force came together with us to inspire the next generation of young people to consider careers which may see them write the next chapter in the history books of our organisations.
 
The BAE Systems Schools Roadshow was launched to take the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics - the STEM subjects - in to schools across the country in a way which would excite and educate pupils in equal measure.
 
In 2018, the roadshow which is now supported by both the RAF and the Royal Navy will visit 420 schools and more than 95,000 students.
 
Speaking at the launch, Air Commodore Peter Squires of the RAF said the roadshow was central to its ambition of using its centenary to inspire young people.
 
He said: "We look forward to continued collaboration with BAE Systems and the Royal Navy in our shared endeavour to enable both boys and girls to fulfil their potential."
 
This year's roadshow focuses on maths, with a series of workshops and demonstrations to showcase various applications of the subject, from robotics and coding through to the use of maths in iPhone technology and even magic.
 
Richard Hamer, our Education and Early Careers Director, said initiatives like the roadshow were crucial to excite young minds.
 
He said: "At BAE Systems, our engineers work in a variety of different roles, from designing submarines for the Royal Navy, to developing innovative virtual reality technology for leading athletes to improve performance or even working on wearable tech for the British Army and the latest fighter jets for the Royal Air Force."
 
As one of the largest employers of engineers in the UK, our business is committed to supporting and developing skills of young people through a range of initiatives including the roadshow.
 
We spend £90m every year on education, early careers and skills development within our business and beyond, including in our award-winning apprenticeship and graduate programmes.
 
In any given year, we have around 2,000 apprentices in training across our UK businesses, including nearly 150 training at degree or Masters level, as well as around 500 graduates in our two-year development programme.
 
Our work experience scheme offers youngsters placements in our businesses throughout the UK, including in Lancashire and East Yorkshire where our people are delivering world-leading capability for the RAF.

 


17/100 - Father of invention

 
Digital graphic of Barnes Wallis, the father of invention
 
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Barnes Wallis was Assistant Chief designer in the aviation section of Vickers Armstrong in Weybridge, Surrey.

Then 52, his achievements in aviation were significant having designed one of company's most famous products, the Wellington bomber, where his ground-breaking design created a hugely robust aircraft.
 
But the challenge he was set of creating a weapon capable of destroying the dams in the industrial heartland of Germany, the Ruhr Valley, was an even greater one.
 
The dams were protected by torpedo nets, so Wallis' initial idea was a ten-tonne bomb which would create an earthquake effect; the problem being no aircraft was capable of carrying it at the required height.
 
Wallis realised the dams could be destroyed by a smaller charge if it was pressed against the wall, and design for a 'bouncing bomb' which would write his place in history was only conceived in March 1942.
 
His design was inspired by a game of skimming stones across water which he used to play with his family and he even honed his theory using a catapult, some of his children's marbles and a washtub. Wallis was so convinced by his belief in the engineering behind his design, he persisted even after the then Chief of Bomber Command dismissed it as "tripe of the wildest description."
 
In February 1943, Wallis was given the go-ahead for the project some eleven weeks before the Ruhr dams were full and the daring mission, codenamed Operation Chastise, was due to take place.
 
On the night of May 16, 1943, the Lancaster bombers, designed and built by A.V. Roe and Company (Avro), and piloted by 617 Squadron set off to carry out the mission which would change the course of the conflict.
 
When the moment came to realise Wallis' bouncing bomb, the 30-tonne Lancaster approached the dam at 60 feet and 230 miles per hour, as per the engineer's instructions.
 
The weapon was released at precisely 389 metres from the dam where it bounced across the water, over the anti-torpedo defences and sank at the wall where it detonated at 30 feet.
 
To practice for the mission, the pilots of 617 Squadron had practised low-level flights across Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire, which is still used to commemorate Operation Chastise today.
 
In 2018, the squadron, known as ‘The Dambusters’ after the mission, will become the first to operate the F-35 Lightning, the latest addition to the RAF’s frontline.
 
Our business builds 15% of every F-35, including the advanced manufacture of the jet’s rear section at our site in Samlesbury, Lancashire, and the electronic warfare technology which is delivered by our BAE Systems Inc. business in the United States.
 
Following the War, Wallis was appointed Head of Research and Development at Vickers' Armstrong and was influential in the design of swing wing technology which is used today in military aircraft including the Tornado.
 
Today, the engineers in our business continue the traditions of Barnes Wallis, seeking innovative solutions and pushing the boundaries of technology to give the Royal Air Force the competitive edge it requires to do its job.
 

16/100 - RAF baton relay

 
RAF baton relay

Footage from Warton taken on 14th May 2018

 
To mark the celebration of its centenary year the RAF has sent its celebrations out on the road with a commemorative baton relay which is going global.
 
The relay started on April 1, taking in 100 locations over the course of 100 days with nine overseas locations including Iraq, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands.
 
On 14 May, it was the turn of our military aircraft sites in Warton and Samlesbury, Lancashire, to welcome the relay to the locations where thousands of aircraft which have seen service with the RAF have been designed, manufactured and flown over the past century.  BAE Systems is one of a select few industry sponsors to receive the baton over the course of the 100 day event making the event even more special.
 
The RAF team which is travelling the country included personnel on mountain bikes and the RAF Reservists-sponsored Kawasaki superbike, and competes in the British Superbikes championships.  The team headed first to Warton on the morning to hand over the baton to our employees.
 
The baton was then passed to RAF reservists before handing over to employees who have contributed significantly to supporting the RAF. 
From the final assembly line for the Eurofighter Typhoon, the aircraft at the heart of the frontline plays   in defending the skies over the UK, before a final photo opportunity with  our experimental test pilot, Nat Makepeace.
 
One special member of the celebration was Bernard Worsfold, an RAF veteran and one of our former employees, who was handed the baton alongside the English Electric 'gate guardian' Lightning airframe which stands on site.
 
From Warton, the baton was taken by superbike some 18 miles down the road to Samlesbury, our advanced manufacturing hub where we produce parts for aircraft including Typhoon and the F-35 Lightning, which together make up the future of air defence for the UK for generations to come.
 
It was greeted by our two Lightning 'gate guardians' which stand at the site's entrance - the English Electric Lightning, the prototypes of which were built at the site, and the F-35.  The baton was then taken to the facility where we produce the rear section of every F-35 built.
 
Finally, the baton visited the Academy for Skills & Knowledge which sits alongside our Samlesbury site and is where we train hundreds of apprentices, graduates and our wider workforce to ensure they have the skills to deliver for the RAF now and in the future.
 
From Lancashire, the baton will continue to tour the country visiting many RAF bases such as RAF Lossiemouth, where our team support the Typhoon fleet, on May 23, cross the Humber Bridge close to our aircraft manufacturing site in Brough, East Yorkshire, before heading down the East coast past our aircraft support hubs including RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham in June.
 
Gallery

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Image taken at Warton on 14th May 2018
The baton arrives at Warton

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2018 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
Image taken at Warton on 14th May 2018
The baton was greeted by a crowd of employees

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2018 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)

 


15/100 - Anson at Coningsby

 
Anson at Coningsby

RAF100

 
At RAF Coningsby, the only way to differentiate personnel, delivering UK's Typhoon support in the Typhoon Maintenance Facility is by the overalls they wear.
 
The green of the Royal Air Force personnel work hand-in-hand with their BAE Systems counterparts, in blue and grey, as part of the 'Whole Force' team, ensuring a potent part of the defence of UK skies is ready to respond when called upon.
 
But, our enduring partnership with the station goes back to the Second World War when it was famously home to heavy bombers, including the Lancaster built by Avro, and latterly it has been home to UK fleets of Canberra and Vulcan bombers and later Jaguar and Tornado combat aircraft.
 
One of its less celebrated residents was the Avro Anson, a multi-role aircraft including maritime reconnaissance and training versions. 
 
An Anson C19 provided the RAF Coningsby station flight aircraft in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
 
As the RAF celebrates its centenary this year, we have recognised our enduring partnership with RAF Coningsby by repainting our company-owned Avro Anson Nineteen, which is virtually identical to the C19, in the station's colours - helping the station to commemorate a valuable part of its history. 
 
Photographs held by the Coningsby Aviation Heritage Centre were among those used to ensure that the markings applied were accurate.
 
Station Commander Group Captain Mike Baulkwill said: “We are very grateful to BAE Systems both for helping us meet our current commitment, but also helping us to commemorate a little known but still very valuable part of our history.”
 
Alison Ballard, general manager for BAE Systems at Coningsby, added: "We are proud to help celebrate RAF 100 alongside our partners here at RAF Coningsby. We have re-painted the Anson in the RAF Coningsby scheme to showcase our partnership with the station and our continued support for the Royal Air Force."
 
The BAE Systems Anson is one of only three Ansons flying anywhere in the world and is located at The Shuttleworth Collection, at the Old Warden aerodrome in Bedfordshire, where it can be seen operating at selected events.
 
On May 6 2018, the Anson made its air show debut in its new livery including in an 'Avro Pair' fly-past with the Lancaster bomber operated by the RAF's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which is stationed at RAF Coningsby.

 

14/100 - Ready in minutes

 
Image shows Typhoon, which can be made ready to deploy at a moment's notice
 

When the call comes in, the Typhoon force of the Royal Air Force is able to scramble aircraft and have them in the air ready to protect UK airspace in minutes.

 
This response, known as Quick Reaction Alert or QRA, sees jets from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire or RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland react depending on the location of the requirement.
 
Once airborne, the fully-armed Typhoons can cover the 140 miles from Coningsby to London in around the same time it takes to boil a kettle.
 
At BAE Systems, our teams work hand-in-hand with their RAF counterparts to ensure the availability of the Typhoon ensuring it is ready to respond when called upon.
 
This service, known as the Typhoon Total Availability Enterprise (TyTAN), sees us work as part of a 'Whole Force' team which is introducing new ways of working to further reduce the costs of operating the fleet by more than a third.
 
The arrangements will enable an estimated £500m of savings to be reinvested to develop new capability enhancements for the aircraft.
 
TyTAN involves us working with partners across our supply chain to drive improvements and to deliver the lowest possible costs to the MOD.
 
The arrangement, which includes a joint avionics solution with Eurofighter partner company Leonardo, will reduce the cost of the support service by around one-third whilst maintaining and improving levels of support to the UK Typhoon fleet.
 
However, our enduring partnership in delivering availability contracts with the RAF goes beyond our Typhoon fleet to Tornado where our Availability Transformation: Tornado Aircraft Contract (ATTAC) team is ensuring the warhorse of the air force for generations is ready for action up until its out-of-service date in 2019.
 

The ATTAC team is based out of RAF Marham, Norfolk, which will become the home of the newest aircraft in the UK's fleet, the F-35 Lightning, from the end of 2018, and we will play a major role in ensuring the availability of this aircraft for generations to come.

 


13/100 - Lightning strikes twice

 
Image of English Electric Lightning aircraft outside our Samlesbury site, next to an F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
 
At the gates to our advanced manufacturing hub in Samlesbury, Lancashire, stand replicas of two aircraft which share one iconic name - Lightning.
 
The English Electric Lightning was the first British jet to fly twice the speed of sound in the hands of our test pilot, Roland 'Bee' Beamont, before it entered in to service with the Royal Air Force in 1959.
 
Alongside it, the F-35 Lightning II will play a key part in the frontline of the RAF for decades to come when it enters service later this year.
 
It was our designers, engineers and manufacturers that created the iconic Lightning, and our teams of today are partnered with Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 programme, in the design and manufacture of the next Lightning to go into service.
 
Our business has a workshare of up to 15% on the F-35 programme, delivering everything from the rear section of every jet and the electronic warfare technology behind the fifth generation fighter, through to playing a key role in the team supporting the UK fleet as it enters service with the RAF and Royal Navy this year.
 
One name; two outstanding aircraft side-by-side. A great reflection of the power of partnership.
 

12/100 -  The bridge 

 
Nat Makepeace

RAF100

 
Every day a team of our elite test pilots gets together to work towards the aim of delivering the capability needed by the RAF on its front-line Typhoon fleet.
 
Among that team is Nat Makepeace, a former RAF pilot who is now an experimental test pilot based at our flight testing facility in Warton, Lancashire, where our test pilots work alongside customer pilots to develop capability.
 
Nat  explains his role as "a bridge" between our engineering teams and the pilots of the RAF.
 
He said: "Always in the back of my mind is 'how can I make this product better for the Air Force?' and by working with the RAF we are always aiming to achieve the best we can.
 
"For me, it is all about the man or the woman in the cockpit and giving them the best toolset to ensure they are safe and also very effective."
 
The latest stage of this work, known as Project Centurion, is further enhancing Typhoon for the UK to develop the world's most capable combat aircraft. Project Centurion sees BAE Systems and the RAF's 41 (R) Squadron working together. Speaking in February 2018, Group Captain John Cunningham, who heads up Project Centurion - the programme to improve the jet’s capabilities for the UK fleet - said: “By the end of 2018 no other aircraft in the world will have all of the Typhoon’s capabilities."
 
Graphic showing Roland

April reflections

Missed the stories and reflections we published during April? You can find them all here.
Find out more