Ops Update 21 Dec 2008
The major event of the week for the Hercules Detachment of 904 Expeditionary Air Wing was the support provided to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown during his visit to the region. Other tasking over the last week has included airdrops to Forward Operating bases and the routine movement of freight and personnel around the theatre of operations. Unfortunately one of the Hercules C130J aircraft developed a fuel leak and will have to return to the UK as such faults can sometimes be difficult to repair away from the home base. Whilst creating a headache for the mission planners with one less asset than normal, careful contingency planning ensured that all operational tasking was still met. Sadly one of these tasks was assisting in the repatriation of 4 soldiers killed in action. This is a difficult task at the best of times but is more difficult at this time of year. The task was undertaken with the usual professionalism and sense of occasion so that the fallen could be returned home with the dignity they deserve.
Operationally, this has been a quiet week for the IV(AC) Squadron deployment. However, this period saw the successful completion of an aircraft roulement of 4 Harrier GR9As into Theatre with 3 GR9As and the last remaining GR7A returning to the UK. It is occasionally necessary to undertake this sort of roulement so that essential scheduled maintenance can be undertaken and it also ensures that aircraft in theatre have sufficient flying hours available to meet the operational task. The Harrier community also enjoyed a capability upgrade this week with the introduction of the Helmet Mounted Cueing System. This system represents a significant enhancement in the capability of the GR9 as a Close Air Support platform while also illustrating how the RAF is working hard to ensure that we provide the best possible support of our troops on the ground.
The C130 Detachment of 901 EAW enjoyed a routine week during which they shipped over 100 tonnes of freight and 1200 passengers. Support was also provided to the PM’s visit to theatre.
The VC10 detachment has continued to deliver operational effect despite some problems with aircraft serviceability. Hard work from the ground engineers ensured that the flying task was supported which enabled the delivery of over 170 tonnes of aviation fuel to Coalition aircraft, which is a respectable figure, by anyone’s standards.
A significant operational milestone was achieved for the Tornado GR4 Force this week. For the first time on Op TELIC, the new Brimstone/Paveway 2 fit was flown on an operational sortie. This achievement was reached only after an immense effort from both Squadron personnel and support staff back in the UK. The fit significantly enhances the aircraft’s capability in the Close Air Support role. Meanwhile in support of short notice high priority tasking, the Squadron and supporting Imagery Analysis personnel combined well to utilise the broad range of the RAPTOR reconnaissance pod’s capabilities. It was commendable that collegiate effort enabled the rapid provision of analysed images to the end-user. At other times during the week aircraft engineers worked exceptionally hard to re-role aircraft so that the needs of a dynamic flying task were met. The foundation for this week’s success has been a continued operational focus and a team ethic that is underpinned by a 100% launch success rate.
The highlight of the week for the personnel employed on 903 EAW was a visit by the Prime Minister (PM). The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, accompanied the PM on the visit. Both met with members of 903 EAW and 5 Force Protection Wing, following a wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the 178 British Servicemen and women who have lost their lives in Iraq.
Photographs: Sgt Laura Bibby and Sgt Gary Morgan.
Image 1: RAF Fireman climbs into his fire engine whilst an RAF Chinook prepares to take off.
Image 2: Jet Pilot prepares for his next mission
Image 3: An Engineer arming a Brimstone
Image 4: Pre-flight checks by Engineers on a Brimstone
For more images view this weeks Operational Gallery.