Peter Rolfe RAF Navigator

November 2012

Peter was born in 1947 and educated at Westcliff High School in Essex. He joined the Merchant Navy in 1965 and completed a 4 year Deck Officers Apprenticeship.

Peter joined the RAF as a navigator in 1969 and after AOTS at RAF Church Fenton did his basic naviagation training at RAF Gaydon, on the Varsity. This was followed by the advanced course at RAF Stradishall on the Dominie. There then followed a short tour as a Vulcan Nav Plotter on 50 SQN at RAF Waddington before a posting in December 1971 to 237 OCU at RAF Honington for the Buccaneer course.

After successfully completing the course Peter was posted to 12 SQn at Honington for a tour in the Maritime Strike/Attack role. His time on 12 SQN included many NATO exercises and deployments to Malta, Gibraltar, Norway and Denmark. In February 1975 Peter was posted to XV SQN at RAF Laarbruch for a tour in the Overland Strike/Attack role. The highlight of this tour was participation in the first RAF involvement in the USAF “Red Flag” exercises at Nellis AFB in Nevada. The RAFG element of the exercise deployed by VC10 to Nellis in August 1977 and flew 208 SQN aircraft on the exercise. The flying included weapon attacks on the Nellis ranges and a weapons range in Utah. Throughout the exercise flying, much of which was conducted at very low level, the Buccaneer faced threats from the USAF F-5 aggressor aircraft and Soviet SAM and AAA system simulators. On completion of this tour Peter had flown 1400 hours in the Buccaneer.

Peter’s next tour was a ground tour as the Wing Electronic Warfare Officer at RAF Honington. This tour provided the opportunity to visit the USA again in 1979 and 1981 in support of 12 SQN at China Lake Naval Weapons Centre, where the performance of the Buccaneer defensive aids equipment was being evaluated. On completion of this tour Peter undertook a navigation refresher course at RAF Finningley before going onto the Tornado OCU at RAF Cottesmore. After completion of the Tornado Weapons Conversion Course he was posted to IX SQN, as the squadron EWO, again at RAF Honington. Peter joined IX in October 1982 as it worked up to become the RAF’s first operation Tornado SQN. This tour culminated in another deployment to Nellis AFB for the RAF’s first participation in a “Green Flag” exercise. This exercise is similar to “Red Flag” but with an emphasis on Electronic warfare.

Peter left the RAF in April 1985, at the end of his time on IX SQN and spent the next 20 years in the Defence Electronics Industry. Through out his service in the RAF Peter flew with a camera in the rear cockpit of these remarkable aircraft in their true environment, at low-level both overland and oversea.