Frontline Insights: Royal Air Force Tornado Operations Over Iraq

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Lunch-Time Presentation Two

D J E Cooper MA BEng (Hons) RAF, Officer Commanding 617 Squadron.

UK Forces have now been heavily committed to major expeditionary military operations for a total of 12 years.  In that time, much has been learnt about warfare in the modern age. 

Following swiftly concluded ‘conventional’ wars, the subsequent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been of a very different character.  In adapting to the demands of the enduring insurgencies in these countries and the contemporaneous ‘War on Terror’, each of the Armed Services has experienced a steep learning curve and continues to adapt to the needs of a dynamic security environment.
The operations being conducted today in Basra Province, the Arabian Gulf and the shadow of the Hindu Kush may contain fundamental similarities to historic wars but they are essentially different in execution.  Today’s Albion warriors are experiencing something new. 

Wing Commander David Cooper joined the Royal Air Force in 1988 and undertook Initial Officer Training at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell.  He conducted his flying training as a navigator at Royal Air Force Finningley where he was selected to fly the Tornado GR1.  In 1991 he was posted to his first operational tour, on 27 Squadron at Royal Air Force Marham during which he deployed twice on Operation JURAL.  In 1993 he returned to Royal Air Force Finningley as an instructor where he taught navigator students on the Bulldog, Tucano and Dominie aircraft. 

On promotion to Squadron Leader in 1997 he was posted to Royal Air Force Unit Goose Bay, Canada, as the Officer Commanding Operations Squadron.  He returned to the United Kingdom in 1999 as a Flight Commander on 12(B) Squadron at Royal Air Force Lossiemouth and completed 2 deployments on Op RESINATE in the Middle East.  In 2002, he was posted to the Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood as SO2 J3 Air during which he was the desk officer for Operations JACANA, VERITAS and TELIC. 

On promotion to Wing Commander in 2003, Wg Cdr Cooper completed an Out of Area detachment in the Combined Air Operations Centre in Al Udeid, followed by a return to Northwood in the Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) as SO1 J3 Air.  In the JFHQ Wing Commander Cooper deployed frequently, including to the United Kingdom’s Tsunami relief operation (Operation GARRON) in Sri Lanka and on an evacuation from the Ivory Coast (Operation PHILLIS) where he was responsible for running the United Kingdom’s air operation in Accra, Ghana.  Wing Commander Cooper attended the Advanced Command and Staff Course at the Joint Services Defence College, Shrivenham in 2005/6 following which he was posted to the Joint Force Air Component Headquarters at Royal Air Force High Wycombe as the Chief of Combat Operations and then, subsequently, as the Chief of Staff.  Following another Out of Area detachment to Al Udeid in 2007, Wing Commander Cooper assumed command of 617 Squadron on the Tornado GR4 at Royal Air Force Lossiemouth in April 2008.

Wing Commander Cooper is married to Lorna with whom he has 2 sons, Calum and Alex.  In his spare time he follows many sports, runs, reads, walks his Springer Spaniel and shoots whenever he can.  He is also a member of the General Committee of the Armed Forces Christian Union.

Following Presentations are as follows:

  • Monday 1 December 2008: The Royal Navy And Task Force Operations In The Persian Gulf.
    Speaker: Royal Navy warship commander.
  • Tuesday 13 January 2009: Infantry Operations In Southern Afghanistan.
    Speaker: Unit Commander from 16 Air Assault Brigade, currently in Afghanistan.
  • Tuesday 10 February 2009: Joint Helicopter Force Operations In A Counter-Insurgency. 
    Speaker: Royal Air Force Support Helicopter Squadron Commander.
  • Monday 9 March 2009: Fight In, Fight Out - The Operation To Withdraw From Basra Palace And The Assault On Musa Qala. Speakers: Colonel P N Y M Sanders DSO OBE (Late CO 4 RIFLES).

A sandwich lunch will be available from 1215-1300, with the presentation and subsequent question session from 1300-1430.

Individual event prices are £20 (inc VAT), including a sandwich lunch and 15% of the subscription fee will go to a charity of the speakers’ choice. 

British Military personnel attend for free.  15% of the subscription fee will go to a charity of the speakers’ choice.

To learn more about the other presentations in this series, please click here.

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