RAF Tornados in seven-hour mission to defend ISAF troops in Afghanistan

RAF Tor­na­do GR4 air­craft from 617 ‘The Dam­busters’ Squadron have helped to defend US and Afghan forces from an insur­gent attack as part of a marathon mis­sion last­ing over sev­en hours.

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A 908th Expe­di­tionary Air Refu­el­ing Squadron KC-10 Exten­der refu­elling a Roy­al Air Force Tor­na­do GR4 (stock image) [Pic­ture: Mas­ter Sergeant Ruby Zarzy­czny, US Air Force]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Ear­li­er, two of the RAF Lossiemouth-based air­craft had already spent three hours pro­vid­ing armed over­watch for British and Amer­i­can troops in Hel­mand province when the emer­gency call came in.

Offi­cer Com­mand­ing 617 Squadron, Wing Com­man­der Kei­th Tay­lor, said:

“Whilst car­ry­ing out this task we received an urgent call to fly 300 nau­ti­cal miles [556km] north west to an area near the Turk­menistan bor­der to pro­vide sup­port to a joint Unit­ed States and Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces patrol that was com­ing under repeat­ed small arms fire.”

As the 617 Squadron air­craft were on-task for three hours pri­or to the call for assis­tance and had to refu­el a num­ber of times over the entire on-task peri­od, this added to the length of the mis­sion. Wing Com­man­der Tay­lor said:

“It was a marathon sev­en-hour, 45-minute flight [mis­sion] and fly­ing for that long requires a lot of fuel. We had to air-refu­el four times and took on in excess of 20,000 litres of fuel each.”

He said that after arriv­ing one of the fight­er bombers con­duct­ed a show of force to allow coali­tion forces to extract to safe­ty.

He con­tin­ued:

“The insur­gents scat­tered to the cov­er of var­i­ous build­ings as the Tor­na­do roared over­head at 100 feet [30m] and 500 knots [926km/h], allow­ing the patrol to with­draw.”

The Tor­na­do GR4s of 617 Squadron are oper­at­ing as part of 904 Expe­di­tionary Air Wing at Kan­da­har.

In the same week the squadron also con­duct­ed one show of pres­ence, a high­er-lev­el fly­past designed to indi­cate the pres­ence of a Tor­na­do, and four low­er-lev­el shows of force, all of which were suc­cess­ful in dis­cour­ag­ing insur­gents from attack­ing ground forces.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK