RAF’s V Squadron recognised for Mali Ops

RAF Waddington based V (AC) Squadron has won the relaunched Dacre Trophy for playing a central role in supporting French operations in Mali earlier this year

Presenting the award to V (Army Cooperation) Squadron at the RAF Leuchars airshow, on September 8, Air Vice Marshal Stuart Atha, Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group, praised its members’ efforts over what has been a busy 12 months.

“This recognises V Squadron’s contribution, not just in Afghanistan, which endures, but also at very short notice to Africa, where it was key to the success the French enjoyed,” he said.

The RAF Waddington-based squadron has been flying Sentinel R1 aircraft carrying the Airborne Stand Off Radar (ASTOR) system over Afghanistan since 2008.  In January 2013 it was deployed to assist French forces against Islamic insurgents in Mali, flying 66 sorties and generating 100 intelligence reports as it tracked insurgents fleeing French ground troops.

Accepting the trophy, Squadron Leader Chris Setterfield said it meant a lot to everyone on the squadron.

“It is an extra level of recognition and a pat on the back as we continue to work hard,” he said.

V Squadron was a multiple winner of the Dacre Trophy in the 1970s when it flew Englisj Electric Lightnings and the award recognised weapons proficiency. The trophy was last presented in 2005 and this year retired Group Captain Phil Dacre agreed, on behalf of his family, that it should be revived to recognise the best squadron in No 1 Group.

He said: “I think it has a deeper meaning as a result of this change and it is very appropriate that V Squadron should be the first winners.”

Squadron member Flight Lieutenant Russ Power was sure his colleagues appreciated winning the Dacre.

“For someone to say you’re doing a good job is quite nice,” he said. “It’s been a busy three years and the families suffered the most – they deserve it more than we do.”