There has been an airfield in the vicinity of Marham, Norfolk since 1916. Marham’s history reflects an Air Force which has evolved over a 100 year period enabling the Station to provide world class Combat Air Power, using the most modern technology available, as and when it is required.
2018 sees a pivotal year in Marham’s already considerable history. The transition from Tornado GR4, the workhorse of RAF Combat Air Power for over 3 decades, to F35B Lightning, a truly Next Generation capability, has challenged all areas of the Station. These changes and the transition to Lightning, epitomise the change being seen across the whole of the RAF as we step into our next 100 years.
The lecture will provide the audience with an insight into current Tornado GR4 operations before looking at how Marham is being transformed to operate F35B Lightning. The lecture will focus on how this transition to F35B Lightning is changing ‘business as usual’; the security challenge, the requirement to better understand digital communications and logistics and our relationship with the Royal Navy as we look ahead to operations from land and sea.
Registration is open and is free to both members and non - members.
The Sopwith Lecture was established in 1990 to honour Sir Thomas Sopwith CBE, Hon FRAeS. In the years prior to World War I, Sopwith became England’s premier aviator and established the first authoritative test pilot school in the world. He also founded England’s first major flight school. Between 1912 and 1920 Sopwith’s Company produced over 16,000 aircraft of 60 types.
Group Captain Ian "Cab" Townsend was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in March 1992. Following training, he was posted to IV(AC) Sqn at RAF Laarbruch to fly the Harrier GR7. Townsend deployed on operations on each of his Harrier Force tours beginning in the Balkans in 1998, Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan.
Promoted to Wing Commander in 2007, he was posted to MOD London, where as SO1 joint Target Effects, he was the subject matter expert for all Combat Air matters. In 2010, he volunteered for the post of Chief Of Staff Operations at 83 Expeditionary Air Group, Al Udeid Air base where he was the UK 'Red Card Holder' and responsible for the orchestration of UK Air Power across the Middle East.
In Apr 2012, Townsend was posted to the Typhoon Force and took command of Number 3(Fighter) Squadron. During his two years in Command, he led the Squadron's deployment to Lithuania in support of the UK's contribution to the Baltic Air Policing mission. Townsend joined the Lightning Force HQ in 2014 filling the roles of Chief of Staff, Deputy Force Cdr and Force Cdr. In July 2017, Townsend took Command of RAF Marham and is responsible for day-to-day Tornado GR4 and F35B Lightning activity.
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