RSAF Patch c AB Royal Saudi Air Force Taif Air Base
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RSAF Patch c AB Royal Saudi Air Force Taif Air Base

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RSAF Patch Royal Saudi Air Force Taif Air Base 1980s F 15 Eagle F 5 Freedom Fighter Fully embroidered merrowed edge 88mm by 85mm three and one half inches by three and three eighth inches.

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Taif Air Base is located on the east coast of Saudi Arabia 55 miles inland from Mecca and 100 miles from Jeddah and was converted from an air strip where founder of the Kingdom Ibn Saud landed his first aircraft in 1932 and in July 1934 became the Royal Saudi Air Force main base when it relocated from Jeddah. While RSAF was reduced in size during WWII and inactive after until 1950 when it was reestablished by King Abdul Aziz with help from the UK and the US.

The airfield was expanded in the 1950s to support RSAF operations covering the ports and holy cities of the lower Red Sea with assistance from the United States Military Training Mission USMTM Detachment at Taif and additional construction by US Army and USAF Engineers in the early 1960s as tensions grew between Saudi Arabia and Egypt over the civil war in Yemen. Taif Air Base became a major logistical hub for the standardisation and improvement of Saudi military forces with new facilities shelters and training sites all focused to support its responsibilities for Jeddah Medina and Mecca. 14 Squadron activated and 12 Squadron activated a Detachment at Taif AB in 1968 equipped with Bell 205 and 206 Jet Ranger helicopters for VIP transport and liaison duties.

Taif AB became RSAFs main F 5 operations base when 3 Squadron was activated in 1975 equipped with F 5E Tiger aircraft from Peace Hawk II programme and was tasked with F 5E pilot conversion training and training aircrew for its reconnaissance role with F5 Es with recce nose pods and 10 Squadron activated later in the year equipped with F 5E Tiger aircraft tasked with fighter interceptor QRA alert together with tactical strike ground attack previously assigned to RSAFs Lightning Squadrons.

The Squadrons were assisted by the USMTM Detachment including the provision of USAF instructor pilots and visiting aggressor pilots for training on Soviet aerial tactics and both Squadron added F 5F Tiger two seater aircraft to its fleet. Taif F 5 pilots began Dissimilar Air Combat training against RSAF Lightning aircraft and regularly deployed to Tabuk AB for exercises increasing in 1981. Squadron personnel participated in Red Flag 81 1 at Nellis AFB Nevada with the RSAF deployment using four F 5Bs six F 5Es and two F 5Fs borrowed from USAF 425 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron with its own Saudi ground personnel assisting the deployments 12 pilots carrying out 135 of the planned 140 sorties.

By 1983 Saudi Arabian personnel took over responsibility for depot level airframe and avionics maintenance at Taif from US contractors. Both Squadron received a number of F 5Bs and F 5Es from 7 Squadron when it converted from F 5Es to Tornado IDS aircraft in July 1986 and received AGM 65A and AGM 65B missiles providing a strike attack capability.

The F 5 Squadrons deployed assets to Tabuk following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 for Operation Desert Shield at the same time Taif AB became a main combat base for Coalition air operations with USAF units and personnel taking over much of the base including U2 reconnaissance aircraft deployed from 17 Reconnaissance Wing RAF Alconbury and 9 Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Beale AFB as 1704 Recon Squadron Provisional sixty six F 111 Aardvarks from 48 TFW at RAF Lakenheath and EF 111A aircraft from 390 Electronic Combat Squadron from Mountain Home AFB. The RSAF F 5 Squadrons and the deployed USAF units all took part in combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. Whilst Desert Storm successfully ejected the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in March 1991 and degraded Iraqs military capability USAF units continued operations from Taif AB while its F 5 Squadron assets continued deployed border operations during the 1990s with Operation Southern Watch and the No Fly Zone.

14 Squadron and 12 Squadrons Detachment upgraded to AB 212 Bell 412EP helicopters. New facilities were constructed in preparation for F 15 Eagles and 5 Squadron was activated at Taif AB in 1991 equipped with F 15C and F 15D Eagle aircraft from the Peace Sun programme tasked with air defence. The Taif AB emblem was changed in 1992 from the tiger and wing to the building and aircraft trails logo when RSAF decided to standardise unit logos and to remove the depictions of living creatures on RSAF emblems as not in accordance with Islamic scripture. 34 Squadron was activated at Taif AB in 1996 equipped with F 15C and F 15D Eagle aircraft from the Peace Sun programme tasked with air defence.

Taif AB was redesignated King Fahd Air Base in 1999 when all RSAF air bases were named after members of the Saudi Royal family and RSAF introduced its Wing system to control and support base Squadrons with 2 Wing established at King Fahd Air Base Taif. 3 and 10 Squadrons was inactivated on 24 October 1999 as part of the RSAF F 5 phase down.

Additional USAF support units deployed to KFAB Taif to support Coalition operations and the bases 5 and 15 Squadrons deployed assets for Combat Air Patrols during Operation Iraqi Freedom the invasion of Iraq from 20 March to 1 May 2003.

17 Squadron relocated from Tabuk AB to Taif AB with its F 5E F 5F and RF 5E reconnaissance aircraft with its RF 5Es playing a critical role in providing surveillance of the unstable Yemeni border. 3 Squadron was reactivated on 8 November 2008 at King Fahd AB Taif assigned to 2 Wing to be equipped with Typhoon F 2 and T 3 aircraft as the RSAFs first Typhoon Squadron tasked with training all Typhoon pilots. The first Typhoon T 51 arrived on 23 June 2009 and the Squadron became the Operational Conversion Unit commencing flying operations in mid October 2009 with the first four aircraft delivered followed by eight originally destined for 10 Squadron but diverted to 3 Squadron together with the remaining first 24 RSAF Typhoon aircraft. 5 and 15 Squadron elements undertook operations in support of RSAF missions in Yemen in 2009.

10 Squadron was activated at KFAB Taif in 2011 as the first of two new Typhoon operational Squadrons. 17 Squadron was inactivated then reactivated in 2010 again with F 5E F 5F and RF 5E reconnaissance aircraft before disbanding in 2012 with reconnaissance capable Tornados from other Squadrons taking over the recce tasking.

5 and 15 Squadron elements undertook strike attack operations against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria from 2014 and in support of operations over Yemen from 2015 in support of Government forces against Houthi rebel insurgents.  

This patch dates from the 1980s.


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