Military Aviation


The Royal Air Force Lightning

After the article featuring the cool video of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-4 Phantoms performing a Zulu Alert Scramble we posted last month, here’s another awesome short footage of a Cold War Era scramble, this time performed by Royal Air Force (RAF) Lightning interceptors.

The iconic English Electric (later British Aircraft Corporation, BAC) Lightning has been Britain’s first and only entirely indigenous Mach 2 fighter aircraft produced. The jet was developed from the English Electric P.1, a supersonic research aircraft.

The Lightning was the Royal Air Force’s first truly supersonic aircraft and its introduction immediately doubled maximum speeds in Fighter Command.

The Lightning was always identified with the air defence role during its entire twenty-eight years of front line service. The aircraft in fact was always associated with the interception of unidentified aircraft entering United Kingdom air space.


During the 1970s Soviet aircraft flying into the UK Air Defence Region (UK ADR) would be intercepted by the RAF Northern QRA force at Leuchars, comprising 43 Sqn with the Phantom FG1 and 111 Sqn with the Lightning F3. These aircraft might be directed by fighter controllers using the ground-based radar head at Buchan or Saxa Vord, or by the crew of an Avro Shackleton AEW2 airborne radar aircraft of 8 Sqn; additionally, AAR support for the interceptor squadrons was provided by Victor K1 tanker aircraft.

Once the Lightning entered in service, equipped nine squadrons and became the backbone of Britain’s air defense system for a quarter of a century. The Lightning was also acquired by Saudi Arabia (34) and Kuwait (12).

Now, since no words can describe the adrenaline experienced by fighter pilots during a scramble, we simply invite you to sit down and enjoy the video.

Photo credit: Adrian “Arpingstone” Pingstone via Wikipedia

Gabriele Barison

Gabriele Barison is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Co-Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. He has flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

Top Aces completes first ‘Adversary Air’ training mission with upgraded A-4 Advanced Aggressor Fighter in Canada

Top Aces A-4 Advanced Aggressor Fighter Top Aces, the world's leading provider of advanced adversary… Read More

4 hours ago

The Hunt For The Storozhevoy: when Soviets nearly nuked one of their own warships after it was involved in a mutiny

The mutiny of the Storozhevoy On Nov. 8, 1975, Lieutenant Commander Valeriy Sablin led his… Read More

1 day ago

The story of the USAF General who killed the SR-71 program because he was turned down to fly the Blackbird

The Blackbird The SR-71, unofficially known as the “Blackbird,” is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed… Read More

2 days ago