History was made at RAF Marham on Friday as the first female commander of a Tornado bomber squadron was appointed.
Wing Commander Nikki Thomas led the newly-formed 12(B) Squadron as they paraded for the first time at the base in a ceremony which also marked the departure of the No II Typhoon squadron to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
She said: “This has been a superb day and the guys and girls on parade today were fantastic. It has been a very proud day for all those involved and I’m very much looking forward to working with the personnel of this truly fantastic Squadron.”
Wing Cmdr Thomas now has at least 250 personnel under her command and is due to lead them in operations in Iraq later this year, when they join the American-led operation against Islamic State in Iraq.
The appointment was formally confirmed at the parade which saw the No II (Army Cooperation) Squadron change from a Tornado to a Typhoon Force. Personnel from its new home at Lossiemouth were among those on parade.
Meanwhile the 12 squadron has now taken over as a Tornado force and will be the third Tornado squadron to be based at Marham.
A former station commander at Marham, Air Marshal Dick Garwood, inspected the parade.
He said: “I am delighted to be here today to celebrate these two great Squadrons moving to a new chapter in their illustrious histories. I say thank you to the people on the squadrons as it is them and the people who support them, both on station and in the community, their families and friends that make the squadrons a great success.”
The station commander, Group Captain Harv Smyth, said the parade was a “significant milestone” for the RAF.
He added: “We have gained a new front line Typhoon squadron, and renamed a combat proven Tornado squadron.
“Both will bolster our Combat Air forces, and be used to provide security for the United Kingdom and our Allies, be that in the form of patrolling the skies over our nation, or participating in combat operations overseas. I am immensely proud.”