Crew Training of the RAF in Cosford

Sepecat Jaguar T4_XX835_N

RAF Cosford opened in 1938 as a technical school of the Royal Air Force. Today in Cosford, about 120 aircraft can be used for training. A probably unique project in Europe, one that uses former military jets to train the mechanics of the RAF. In addition, mechanics of allied air forces are also educated and trained.

Furthermore, there is the museum of the RAF in Cosford, which contains more than 75 perfectly restored aircraft.

Almost every year, an air show takes place in Cosford, which is highly recommended. There, you get a little insight into the work of the RAF and the trainees. My second visit in July 2018 was to provide a deeper insight into what’s going on in Cosford.

At any one time in RAF Cosford, about 400 instructors are taking care of around 2000 students. The young soldiers come to RAF Cosford after their basic military training. Here, the training covers four areas: avionics, mechanics, weapons and emergency rescue systems. Depending on their future branch, training is divided into apprentices who specialize in avionics and mechanics, who stay for a period of six months in Cosford. Here, they receive a basic education and the necessary specialist knowledge and technical skills of an aircraft mechanic. After that, the students spend a year in an active squadron of the Royal Air Force. After this year, they return to RAF Cosford and receive training as an aircraft mechanic for the following 14 months. Training in weapons and emergency rescue systems is a bit shorter. The students of these disciplines go through a one-year course. The training includes a highly practical discipline.

The areas that we visited were:

The Airframes, in the engines and propulsion hangar:
Four JetProvost training aircraft, three Tornado GR.4 combat aircraft, and fifteen Jaguar GR.1 and GR.3 combat aircraft are in the large hangar used for training. For this, mainly the Sepecat Jaguar GR.1 and GR.3 are used. There are also a handful of Panavia Tornado GR.1s and GR.4s. The jets are in a very good condition because, basically, they’re always being worked on. But they do not serve as BDRT aircraft (Battle Damaged Repair Training) – which are used by almost all air forces to train the mechanics to repair damaged aircraft. BDRT  involves holes being punched into a structure, this is trained in Cosford on specially manufactured wing or fuselage-like racks. In addition, the RAF has bought  five Pennant Aircraft hydraulic trainers (GENERIC FLYING CONTROLS TRAINER). These are without outer skins, containing purely hydraulics and electrical systems. You can see  the exact course of hydraulics and electrical lines, so you get a better and easier technical understanding. 

Then there is a Jaguar (XX110) that serves as an engine simulator, where hundreds of errors can be simulated, and the turbine can be worked on directly.  Furthermore, there is a replica of a current RAF jet, a Typhoon, that is used to teache about how to fix numerous mechanical bugs. In the near future there will probably be “real” Typhoon in Cosford as the RAF will withdraw the Tranche I aircraft.

The Weapons and Avionics hangar
This hangar includes three Jaguar GR.1s and eight GR.3s, five Westland Seaking HAS.6s, and three Tornado GR.1s. Here weapons handling is taught and trained, whether it be GPS bombs or the 27mm  GK-27 Mauser cannon or the Brimstone Missile, all modern weapons of the RAF.

238 Sqn (museum side) this is where the trainees complete their basic engineering training. Eighteen Jaguar GR.1 and GR.3 jets are available for everything that has to do with engines. These are repeatedly removed, checked, possible defective parts will be replaced and the engine reinstalled. For the training, the engines are also disassembled so that the mechanics get to know them in detail; this includes the engine ducts and instruments that are installed in the aircraft.

In the future, the Jaguars will be replaced by BAE Hawks, and there will be some Tornado GR.4s added from RAF Marham, if they are taken out of service in 2019. As mentioned, Typhoons will probably come to Cosford in the near future also.

For the outstanding friendly and informative support, I would like to thank Ailidh Leather, Deputy MCCO from RAF Cosford.

Peter Boschert

Peter is a photographer covering events in the United States and in Europe. He likes to cover Nellis AFB, NAS Fallon and RAF Lakenheath.

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