Afghanistan operational air update

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

RAF and Royal Navy personnel conducted numerous missions across southern Afghanistan last week, 17 to 23 October 2011. Here follows an operational update.


The RAF 31 Squadron’s detachment at Kandahar Airfield has undertaken a number of ‘shows of force’ (SoF) and ‘shows of presence’ (SoP) in support of ground based troops across Afghanistan.

Two SoP were carried out in support of US troops operating in Regional Command (RC) North.

The following day, the Squadron’s Tornados were called upon to provide armed overwatch to an Italian ground patrol in RC West who had come under fire from small arms. Two SoF were undertaken in a 30-minute period which suppressed the fire from the insurgents allowing the Italian troops to successfully complete their mission.

The Kandahar-based Reapers of 39 Squadron continued to provide reconnaissance and attack support to ISAF troops in across southern and eastern Afghanistan this week.

Specifically, they provided almost 300 hours of detailed video imagery, which was largely in support of operations in RC East.

The Reaper crews also conducted a number of successful Hellfire strikes against insurgents. One attack resulted in an insurgent being killed with a further two wounded. A fourth member of the group was targeted, but the diligence of the Reaper crew identified a risk to the local populace and terminated the attack to avoid collateral damage.

Other events last week resulted in a further three insurgents being killed and one injured.

Intelligence and Situational Awareness

The very successful relationship between the US Marine Corps (USMC) of Task Force Leatherneck and the Royal Navy Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control (SKASaC) detachment at 903 Expeditionary Air Wing continued with the provision of near real-time support to ground elements from 3 Company of the USMC’s 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

RC Team 5 has worked closely with the SKASaCs to successfully disrupt facilitation routes used by the insurgents southeast of Lashkar Gah. The past week has also seen the movement of the SKASaCs Ops team to the new Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan) JHF(A) Operations Centre.

Tactical Imagery Wing (TIW) continued to deliver crucial support to ISAF all over Afghanistan last week, with much of their effort focussed on the south and east of the country.

A number of Tornado GR4 sorties have been completed, with particular attention being given to Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) reconnaissance in support of Task Force Helmand.

The GR4’s RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for Tornado) pods were perfect for the task and, with the detailed analysis provided by TIW experts, ground commanders were furnished with detailed imagery and information that allowed them to make better-informed tactical decisions that ensure the continued success of a number crucial operations.

As the busy Relief in Place period continued, JHF(A) aircraft were once again called upon to protect ISAF personnel.

When a number of insurgents were spotted preparing to launch an attack near Patrol Base Ghundey, in Zhari district, just west of Kandahar it was left to the Attack Helicopter Force to interdict the Taliban fighters and successfully thwart the attack.