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Afghanistan operational air update 18 February 2012

RAF personnel conducted numerous missions across southern Afghanistan from 12 to 18 February 2012. Here follows an operational update.

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

Air Mobility and Lift

The VC10s of 101 Squadron had an exceptional week on operations in the airspace over Afghanistan. They not only achieved all of their taskings, but their delivery of fuel was up to more than 173 tonnes, a new high for the past six months.

Thorough planning and flexibility have ensured that the aircraft can deliver maximum offload in the shortest periods of time. The main receivers continue to be from the US Navy, utilising the ‘probe and drogue’ capability of the VC10, with deliveries to a number of variants of the F-18.

The remaining fuelling tasks saw fuel being delivered to Italian AMX fighters and EA-6B Prowlers of the US Navy, which brings the total fuel delivered during February 2012 so far to more than 330 tonnes.

The flexibility of the VC10 remains critical in ensuring that coalition air power continues to deliver armed overwatch, shows of force and close air support to troops on the ground across Afghanistan.


The Tornado GR4s of 12 (Bomber) Squadron, operating from 904 Expeditionary Air Wing at Kandahar, have continued to deliver their key capabilities in support of a number of coalition ground forces.

The week began with two shows of presence in support of US ground forces operating in Kandahar, which were used to deter any potential insurgent activity and were sufficient to meet the intent of ground commanders.

Later in the week the GR4s were called on to deliver a show of force in support of US ground forces who had come under small arms fire and this was sufficient to deter any further engagement by the insurgents.

And reconnaissance conducted by the GR4s continues to provide essential intelligence data in support of ground commanders.

Intelligence and Situational Awareness

The Sentinel R1 aircraft of 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron continued to keep a watchful eye on ground activity in Afghanistan and quickly report any new activity to ground commanders.

The tactical flexibility of the aircraft and its crew have seen it operate across Regional Command (South West), Regional Command (South) and Regional Command (East) to great effect.

The majority of the activity was to provide pattern of life data in support of a number of disparate operations led by the US Marine Corps of Task Force Leatherneck and UK ground forces operating as part of Task Force Helmand, accumulating almost 50 flying hours.

The 39 Squadron Reaper detachment, operating from Kandahar Airfield, continued to provide detailed imagery and intelligence crucial to ground commanders.

They delivered approximately 150 hours of full-motion video which is used extensively by ground forces operating as part of Task Force Helmand and the US Marine Corps of Task Force Leatherneck.

Two kinetic strikes were carried out against insurgents undertaking attacks against coalition ground forces. During one event a Reaper aircraft had been undertaking a prolonged operation when it was cued onto an insurgent who had engaged coalition ground forces.

Once the Reaper crew had achieved ‘eyes on’ they observed the muzzle flash of a shot being fired before the insurgent set off on foot from his firing position of a gap in a compound wall.

Maintaining a positive ID throughout, the crew continued to track the insurgent until he had made his way out of the compound and onto open ground before being engaged.

The patience shown by the crew ensured that the attack was prosecuted with no risk of civilian casualties or collateral damage.

Published 24 February 2012