RSAF Patch da Sqn Royal Saudi Air Force 7 Squadron Tornado OCU
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RSAF Patch da Sqn Royal Saudi Air Force 7 Squadron Tornado OCU

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RSAF Patch Royal Saudi Air Force 7 Squadron Tornado IDS Operational Conversion Unit OCU Al Yamamah I Contract Dhahran Air Base 1986 Embroidered on twill merrowed edge 63mm by 118mm two and one half inches by four and five eighth inches.

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7 Squadron was activated at the USAF base Dhahran Air Field in 1957 to operate the newly received sixteen F 86F Sabre fighters tasked with air defence of the Eastern Province and the oil installations on the Persian Gulf tactical ground attack and as the F 86 Operational Conversion Unit OCU. The USAF handed Dhahran air field back to the Saudi Arabia in 1962 with the Royal Saudi Air Force taking over the facility and renaming it Dhahran Air Base. The Squadron added another three F 86F Sabres purchased from Norway in 1966.

The Squadron with its F 86F Sabres deployed TDY to Khamis Mushayt Air Base near the Yemen border along with elements of Lightning Conversion Unit to join 6 Squadrons Lightning aircraft and carried out rocket and bomb ground attack missions from December 1969 to May 1970 during the border dispute with South Yemen. Hostilities ceased later in 1970 when the Republicans and the Royalists formed a coalition government and the country was reformed into Arab Republic of Yemen.

The Squadron was the first RSAF Squadron to transition to Northrop F 5E and F 5F Tiger II aircraft from the Peace Hawk II programme in 1974 retaining its OCU role as the F 5 Operational Conversion Unit with a secondary fighter and ground attack operational role if required. 7 Squadron received a number of F 5B Freedom Fighters from 15 Squadron released when the reequipped with F 5Es and F 5Fs in 1975. The Squadron retired its last F 86F Sabre in 1977.

The Squadron was assisted by the United States Military Training Mission detachment at Dhahran AB including the provision of USAF instructor pilots and visiting aggressor pilots for training on Soviet aerial tactics. 7 Squadron pilots began Dissimilar Air Combat Training against RSAF Lightning units in 1978 and regularly deployed to other RSAF bases for exercises.

With Dhahran the only RSAF base located near the Persian Gulf coast it was on continuous high alert following the commencement of the Iran Iraq War on 22 September 1980 to protect Saudi Arabia oil installations its territorial waters and its sea navigation routes in the Persian Gulf. 7 Squadron assisted 13 Squadron standing QRA interception alert and Combat Air Patrols during the conflict.

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 ground personnel assisting the deployments 12 pilots carrying out 135 of the planned 140 sorties.

A late alert F 5 scramble from Dhahran AB failed intercept a defecting Iranian F 4 Phantom in 1982 which entered Saudi Arabian air space and landed in the Dhahran oil area.

Saudi Arabian personnel took over responsibility for depot level airframe and avionics maintenance at Taif from US contractors by 1983. With Dhahran AB chosen as the main operating base for the Tornado IDS aircraft ordered under the Al Yamamah I programme pilots and personnel were deployed to the RAFs newly activated Royal Saudi Training Flight at Trinational Tornado Training Establishment TTTE RAF Cottesmore UK to undertake courses commencing on 11 October 1985. 7 Squadron converted from F 5s to Tornado IDS aircraft becoming the Tornado OCU in July 1986 with its F 5Bs and F 5Es distributed to other RSAF Squadrons.

Tornado training was assisted by 35 Squadron activated at Dhahran Air Base in 1986 equipped with two Jetstream 31M aircraft to train its Tornado Navigator and Weapons Systems Officer students which had been initially carried out by Bae Warton.

The tempo of operations from Dhahran AB reduced with ending of the Iran Iraq War after the truce of 20 July 1988. 66 Squadron was activated at Dharhan AB in 1990 initially equipped with three Tornado IDS under the Al Yamamah I programme in interdiction and suppression of enemy air defences SEAD roles.

Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 Dhahran AB became a major Coalition operational combat base with deployed RAF Tornado Squadrons F 15Cs from USAF 1 Tactical Fighter Wing Provisional and the US Armys 101 Airborne Division and its Aviation elements. RSAF units were strengthened with 13 Squadron joined by F 15s from 6 Squadron TDY deployed from Khamis Mushait AB and along with 7 Squadron Tornado IDS aircraft undertook combat air patrols along the border with Kuwait and Iraq to counter Iraqs threatened attacks on Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield. Combat operations continued during Operation Desert Storm commencing January 1991 with shared CAPs with British Tornado F 3 and USAF F 15C aircraft and Tornado IDS strike attacks.

The Squadrons emblem was changed in 1992 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. Whilst Desert Storm successfully and degraded Iraqs military capability Coalition Air Forces and RSAF border operations continued from Dhahran AB during the 1990s with Operation Southern Watch and the No Fly Zone.

75 Squadron was activated at Dhahran Air Base in 1996 equipped with Tornado IDS under the Al Yamamah II programme in interdiction roles and suppression of enemy air defences SEAD joined by 83 Squadron activated in 1998 also equipped with Al Yamamah II Tornado IDS aircraft in the same role.

Dhahran AB was redesignated King Abdullah Aziz 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 two wings 3 Wing and 11 Wing established at King Abdullah Aziz Air Base Dhahran. The F 15 Squadrons 13 and 92 and Hawk Mk 65 Squadrons 21 and 37 were assigned to 3 Wing and the Tornado Squadrons 7 35 66 75 and 83 were assigned to 11 Wing.

Dhahran AB again became a major Coalition operational combat base with the build up and execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom the invasion of Iraq on 20 March 2003 to 1 May 2003 with 7 Squadron supporting RSAF operations. RSAF retired the Sea Eagle anti ship missile and the ALARM anti radiation missile systems in 2007 with short range air to air IRIS T missiles Brimstone and Storm Shadow cruise missiles ordered as replacements. 7 Squadron supported RSAF operations over Yemen from 2009 in support of Government forces against Houthi rebel insurgents and against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria from 2014.

With contracts for British aircraft equipment and training and the use of ex Royal Air Force pilots and personnel in the 1950s and 1960s Squadrons adopted unit flying suit patches based on RAF crest design with a central logo within a frame indented each side for the Squadron number and with a motto in scroll below and a Royal crown above. Crest patches were mainly manufactured in Britain with a number made by US manufacturers. With the contracts for US aircraft and training USAF style circular and shield shaped patches with new logos replaced crest patches in the mid 1970s and early 1980s with new unit patches provided by US aircraft manufacturers particularly for F 15 Squadrons. Patches changed again in the early 1990s when RSAF decided to standardise unit logos and to replace depictions of living creatures on RSAF emblems with stylised designs.

 

This patch dates from 1986.

 

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