A ROYAL Navy air engineer officer who grew up in Edinburgh has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
Lieutenant Commander Paul “Thommo” Thomson, 34, is currently serving at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall as the senior engineer for the Fixed Wing Force. The award is in recognition of his outstanding performance as the senior engineer officer on 17 (Reserve) Squadron.
Paul played a vital role in establishing a new joint Royal Navy/RAF engineering structure, enabling the preparation and delivery of the technologically complex F35B Lightning II aircraft into United Kingdom service.
Lt Cdr Thomson is delighted to have been selected for such an honour and is looking forward to taking his wife and two young daughters to the investiture.
Paul attended George Heriot’s School as a “foundationer”, before passing an Admiralty Interview Board and taking up a Royal Navy sponsored place, to study for a MEng in aerospace engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST).
On graduation he attended Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, where he passed out in 2004. Continuing his training on board HMS Chatham, he achieved a first-class pass at his Fleet Board and completed his systems engineering and management course (SEMC) at HMS Sultan near Portsmouth.
From HMS Sultan he moved to RAF Wittering to complete his final stage of training and passed his Certificate of Competency in 2005 before being appointed as the junior engineer officer on IV (AC) Sqn at RAF Cottesmore operating Harrier GR7 and GR9 aircraft.
Operational deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Herrick followed, as well as detachments to North America, HMS Illustrious and across the UK.
An appointment in 2007 to the Joint Combat Aircraft Project Team came next, where Paul was responsible for infrastructure, maintenance policy and propulsion development of the New F35B aircraft.
On promotion to Lieutenant Commander in 2012, Paul was appointed to Edwards Air Force Base in California in preparation for the arrival of UK’s first F35B as the senior engineer officer on 17 Sqn. The UK was the First International Partner to independently operate the aircraft, receiving the first aircraft in January 2015 and completing its first sortie in early February.
“Bringing the F35B into service is a team effort and I am very proud to have played my part,” said Lt Cdr Thomson.
“My best wishes to all of those who are still working very hard on the future of Fixed Wing Naval Aviation, I am also immensely pleased to be working at RNAS Culdrose – the home of the Royal Navy’s Carrier Aviation.”