The RAF Harrier force had regularly practiced off-airfield and bare base operations from the very earliest days.
The RAF Germany squadrons at Gutersloh had dedicated ranges that they would regularly deploy to in order to practice their dispersal operations.
After the draw back from Germany following the Cold War, there were less opportunities for the Harrier Force to practice dispersed ops, but being able to operate from austere sites was still one of the Harriers great assets.
So, the occasional chance to deploy away from their main operating base was an opportunity to practice these techniquies, and for the crews to retain some experience.
October 2003 saw Wattisham host a few Harrier GR7s for a few days as 4 Sqn deployed a number of aircraft to the Army Air Corps helicopter base.
The Harriers operated from the main pan and flew routine sorties from Wattisham’s main runway, performing standard servicing and refuelling tasks away their main base.
For Wattisham, it was a chance to host something other than the usual rotary wing aircraft, and was good to see and hear a welcome return of fast jet operations.
Aircraft involved included: –
Harrier GR7 ZD405/34 1 Sqn
Harrier GR7 ZD408/37 4 Sqn
Harrier GR7 ZD409/38 4 Sqn
Harrier GR7 ZG472/62 4 Sqn
Harrier GR7 ZG479/69 4 Sqn
Harrier GR7 ZG505/76 4 Sqn