A naval aviator assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana was awarded the prestigious Britannia Award by the British naval attaché to the United States.
Royal Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Betton, deputy commander, Joint Force Command presented the Britannia Award to Lt. Ian Arbuckle during an award ceremony aboard NAS Oceana, Sept. 28.
“For me, it is the culmination of the dedication, and the professionalism of the T-45 strike instructor cadre involved in training future pilots such as myself,” said Lt. j.g. Ian Arbuckle, who was notified that he was chosen for this distinguished award soon after transferring from Training Squadron (VT) 21, which is based at NAS Kingsville, Texas, to VFA-106.
Arbuckle, who is from Houston, received his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017. Immediately following receiving his commission, he attended Aviation Pre-Flight Indoctrination at NAS Pensacola, Florida. During his follow-on assignment at VT-21, he received training on a myriad of strike fighter training from aircraft operations to basic strike fighter tactics, and culminating with carrier qualifications aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
While he is currently in the strike phase of his training on the F/A-18E and F Super Hornet at VFA-106, he said he looks forward to one day deploying with an operational squadron.
The Britannia Award is part of the Chief of Naval Air Training's annual Aviation Awards program. It is given to the Navy or Marine Corps student naval aviator graduate of the Strike pipeline who demonstrates the highest overall weapons score and performance in the Advanced phase of Strike training during the previous calendar year. Arbuckle won the award for his record at NAS Kingsville, while attached to VT-21.
Cmdr. Dan Catlin, commanding officer, VFA-106 emphasized the long-standing tradition of this award to recognize an outstanding strike fighter pilot.
“While this award recognizes the top performer in the Strike pipeline, it also speaks to the countless men and women, military and civilian, who support the development of our future Strike Fighter pilots such as Lt. j.g. Arbuckle,” said Catlin.
The Britannia Award, established in 1956 by the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty of the United Kingdom, is an annual award consisting of a scroll and a trophy. It was given as a token of appreciation for the assistance rendered by the United States Navy in training
British naval pilots between 1952 and 1956. More than 250 British trainee pilots passed through U.S. air training centers, where they were instructed by U.S. Navy instructor pilots and brought up to U.S. Navy operational standards.
Additionally, the award recognizes British and U.S. Navy cooperation during the World War II when more than 28,000 British pilots were training and qualified with the U.S. during the war years. The trophy is a sterling silver model of the Royal Navy’s Vampire jet fighter that made the first scheduled jet deck landing in the world aboard HMS Ocean in December 1945.
Arbuckle’s name will be inscribed on the trophy joining previous recipients. The trophy is permanently housed at the National Naval Aviation Museum aboard NAS Pensacola.