British Military Aviation in 1963


The Hawker Siddeley Blue Steel stand-off nuclear air-to-surface missile is
declared operational. The first squadron to be armed with Blue Steel was
No.617 Squadron at RAF Scampton (Avro Vulcan B2).

31 March
RAF Fighter Command is reorganised. The Command’s constituent Groups,
No.11 and No.12 Groups, were disbanded and replaced by three Sectors.

April -August
The Indonesian Confrontation: following an unsuccessful attempt to depose
the Sultan of Brunei on 8 December 1962, President Soekarno of Indonesia,
driven by the desire to unite Malaya, the Phillipines and Indonesia within
an Indonesian empire, begins to support insurgents in attacks across the
970 mile border between Kalimantan, Sarawak and Sabah on the island of
Borneo. Between the declaration of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September
1963 and 1966, Indonesian insurgents and troops were also inserted into
Singapore and Malaya by Lockheed Hercules of the Indonesian Air Force

In response, the British armed forces mount an intensive counter-insurgency
operation in order to guarantee the security of the states making up the
new Malaysian Federation. The British Army presence in Sarawak and Sabah
was supported by RAF transport aircraft and helicopters. An Air Defence
Identification Zone was established over Sarawak and Sabah, policed by
the Hawker Hunters of No.20 Squadron and the Gloster Javelins of No.60
and No.64 Squadrons from RAF Stations Kuching and Labuan. Eventually,
hostilities came to end following the conclusion of a peace treaty on
11 August 1966.

23 May
Following the Nassau Conference of 18-22 December 1962, the RAF Medium
Bomber Force (MBF), or ‘V-force’, was assigned to the Supreme Allied Commander,
Europe for the targetting, planning, co-ordination and execution of nuclear
strikes. However, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Bomber Command retained
day-to-day control of the force and the Air Ministry continued to be responsible
for the MBF’s efficiency and war readiness. Moreover, the British Government
reserved the right to withdraw the MBF where United Kingdom supreme national interests
were judged to be at stake.

1 June
A unified command structure, Far East Command, is introduced in the Far
East. Far East Air Force became the primary air element within this new
tri-Service command.

6 June
Three standards (a record for one occasion) are presented to Nos. 203,
204 and 210 Squadrons by Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret at RAF Ballykelly.

1 September
Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Elworthy succeeds Marshal of the Royal Air
Force Sir Thomas Pike as Chief of the Air Staff.

17 September

The Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station at RAF Fylingdales in Yorkshire
is declared operational. The station subsequently commenced sustained
operations on 15 January 1964.

19 September
The formation of the state of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 results in
an upsurge in hostility towards the United Kingdom nationals living and
working in Indonesia. Three Armstrong Whitworth Argosys of No.215 Squadron,
together with a Handley Page Hastings of No.48 Squadron begin to airlift
any British citizens that wish to leave Indonesia to Singapore . Some
four hundred passengers were flown out over the next few days.