RAF personnel conducted numerous missions across southern Afghanistan from 22 to 28 January 2012. Here follows an operational update.
Air Mobility and Lift
The VC10s of 101 Squadron successfully completed all of their planned missions. Thorough planning and flexibility ensured that they delivered over 120 tonnes of fuel to coalition aircraft.
The main receivers continue to be from the US Navy, utilising the ‘probe and drogue’ capability of the VC10 for 25 deliveries to a number of variants of the F-18.
The rest of the fuel deliveries were also in support of the US Navy and its EA-6B Prowlers. This was all critical to ensuring that coalition aircraft delivered armed overwatch, ‘shows of force’ and close air spport to troops on the ground across Afghanistan.
Despite a period of extremely inclement weather in Afghanistan, the Tornado GR4s of 12 (Bomber) Squadron, operating from 904 Expeditionary Air Wing at Kandahar Airfield, continued to deliver their key capabilities in support of a number of coalition ground forces.
There were two shows of force, which were carried out to deter a range of insurgent activity across Afghanistan. The first was in support of US troops operating in Kunduz province in the Regional Command (North) area of operations.
The second involved ISAF troops recovering a large cache of weapons and explosives in the Regional Command (East) area of operations where the show of force was sufficient to deter any potential action by insurgents in the area.
And, once again, the squadron undertook a number of highly successful reconnaissance missions to collect data on ‘points of interest’, providing essential intelligence in support of ground commanders.
Intelligence and Situational Awareness
The 39 Squadron Reaper detachment operating from Kandahar Airfield continued to provide detailed imagery and intelligence crucial to ground commanders.
They delivered approximately 107 hours of full motion video which was used extensively by ground forces operating as part of Task Force Helmand and the US Marine Corps of Task Force Leatherneck.
The Sentinel R1 aircraft of 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron continued to keep a watchful eye on ground activity in Afghanistan and quickly reported any new activity to ground commanders.
Primarily, their tasking was in support of operations being undertaken across Helmand province.
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.
The Sentinel’s Ground Moving Target Indicator function continues to be highly sought after and saw 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron fly for approximately 30 hours.