The Sir Barnes Wallis Medal

Awarded in recognition of an exceptional and innovative contribution to aviation.

2021 Awarded to: Squadron Leader James Skinner RAF

Sqn Ldr James SkinnerSquadron Leader James Skinner is responsible for implementing and monitoring policy, tactics and standards that lead to the safe and operationally effective execution of Typhoon operations. Through syllabi of his design, he is responsible to the RAF Combat Air Force Commander for assuring RAF Typhoons are ready and capable to conduct the myriad of Air Power roles of which the Typhoon is capable.

Since 2018, Typhoon’s overall capability has increased with the arrival of new weapons including the Meteor air to air missile, Storm Shadow cruise missile and Brimstone 2 air to surface missile. Noting the concomitant increased workload and complexity for single-seat pilots, Skinner has revolutionised Typhoon training. From ab-initio conversion to advanced qualifications he has introduced a single training continuum for teaching, briefing and assessment as well as re-balancing mission focus between live flying and simulator training, to optimise the gains derived from each environment.

In the live flying environment, he has moved the Force away from planning-heavy ‘scenario-based’ live flying training, towards a focus on core fighter pilot skills transferrable to any threat environment. This includes an innovative ‘Tactical Intercept’ philosophy, which drills pilots in the core weapon and tactical skill sets through high-tempo evolutions, thus increasing training for the same amount of resource. The focus of these evolutions are skills that cannot be adequately replicated in the simulator such as high g-force, dynamic serials, such as air combat manoeuvring.

In tandem with this new Tactical Intercept philosophy, the focus of simulator work is now on those aspects of air fighting that are harder to generate efficiently in the live environment. Beyond Visual Range work with multiple and scalable threats feature heavily. Skinner has also led his team to generate a synthetic syllabus which offers more flexibility to squadron commanders, allowing them to port more of their preparations towards NATO Very High Readiness status into the simulated environment, thus maximising training opportunities where live resource may be limited. These marked changes better exploit the two training environments has been embraced by Squadron Commanders who testify that this new approach to training has significantly increased tactical proficiency at the Frontline.

As a result of Skinner’s innovative approach, the Typhoon Force has undergone a significant training mindset shift, shortening time to Combat Ready status whilst simultaneously improving the lethality of frontline pilots. His skilful use of training resource also embraces the ethos of the RAF’s Astra campaign to build a Next-Generation air force. Universally respected by his peers and seniors as a humble, approachable and capable pilot, Skinner typifies the qualities the Royal Air Force seeks in its Qualified Weapons Instructors. His performance in his role as Staneval has been exceptional and he is accordingly awarded the Sir Barnes Wallis Medal.

Previous Winners:

1979/80  Gabe Rob (Jock) Bryce

1980/81  Captain John Archibald Cameron OBE

1982  not awarded

1982/83  John A Denyer

1983/84  HMS Endurance Flight

1984/85  Air Cdre Peter Howard

1986  not awarded

1986/87  Peter F Cedervall

1988  not awarded

1988/89  Jeffrey Kindersley Quill OBE

1990 - 1992  not awarded

1992/93  A J Smith

1994  not awarded

1994/95  Michael Foale PhD

1996  not awarded

1996/97  Keith Perrin

1997/98  Gp Capt John Cunningham CBE DSO** DFC* AE

1998/99  Wg Cdr K H Wallis

1999/2000  Peter Holding

2000/01 Professor Kay Young PhD

2001/02  Lt Cdr Paul C J Stone RN and Sqn Ldr Justin Paines

2002/03  Dr Martin (Dill) Faulkes

2003/04  Sqn Ldr Charles W (Bill) Thompson

2004/05  Kenneth Peter Ross Smart

2005/06  5 Regt AAC

2006/07  Sam Wells OBE

2008   not awarded

2008/09  Timothy Prince OBE FRAeS

2010  not awarded

2010/11  Maj David Amlôt MBE

2011/12  Michael John Miller-Smith

2012/13  Nicholas Dean Lappos

2013/14  Hybrid Air Vehicles

2014/15  Dr Richard Raistrick OBE

2016 - 2017   not awarded

2018  AVM Simon "Rocky" Rochelle OBE DFC RAF

2019  Maj Thomas W Aseltine USAF

2020  F-16 Cruise Missile Defence Tactics Development Team

2021  Sqn Ldr James Skinner RAF