83 Expeditionary Air Group
904 Expeditionary Air Wing
904 Expeditionary Air Wing (904 EAW) is responsible for the support and operation of RAF assets at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. As well as delivering hundreds of RAF air mobility movements every year with Hercules C-130J and BAE 146 aircraft, the EAW mounts attack and intelligence missions through its detachments of RAF Tornado GR4 fast jets. The EAW also provides support for a detachment providing launch and recovery of RAF and Reaper remotely piloted air systems, which are under the command of 83 Expeditionary Air Group.
The Tornado GR4 Detachment, currently manned by II(AC) Squadron, stands ready to launch at a moment’s notice in support of Afghan-led ground forces anywhere in Afghanistan, and regularly delivers vital close air support to provide friendly forces with an edge over insurgents. Increasingly, the GR4 employs shows of force to deter insurgents, helping break contacts with the enemy without the need to release weapons. When necessary, however, the aircraft can use precision weapons to attack ground targets. The aircraft also provides critical detailed intelligence and reconnaissance through its state-of-the-art RAPTOR and LITENING-III sensor equipment, enabling Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing to provide ground commanders with detailed information about the battle-space.
The Tactical Air Transport Detachment, equipped with Hercules C-130J and BAE 146 aircraft from 30 Squadron and XXXII (The Royal) Squadron, makes sure personnel and equipment can move within and between the eight million square mile joint area of operations for which 83 Expeditionary Air Group is responsible. The detachment is supported by specialist air movements personnel and engineers usually based at RAF Brize Norton and RAF Northolt. Its tactical lift capability plays a vital role in supporting the safe, timely and cost-effective redeployment of vehicles and major equipment from Afghanistan to the UK via 903 Expeditionary Air Wing at Camp Bastion, and 906 Expeditionary Air Wing in the Middle East.
The Reaper Detachment operates the RAF’s highly capable remotely piloted air systems to supplement other air intelligence platforms with detailed imagery of ground conditions, under command of 83 Expeditionary Air Group. Reaper’s primary role is to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and this forms the vast majority of its missions. However, when necessary the aircraft can also deploy guided Hellfire missiles to support Afghan-led ground forces in contact with the enemy. All Reaper missions are controlled by experienced RAF pilots, whose immediate face-to-face support from intelligence personnel and other operational specialists makes them among the most situationally aware pilots in the world. The Detachment is also supported by aerospace battle managers and other operational specialists based with 83 Expeditionary Air Group.