RAF Chinook pilot describes his role in Op MOSHTARAK

A number of International Security Assistance Force air assets were used to insert troops into key target locations during this weekend’s Operation MOSHTARAK, including RAF Chinooks. Here, Flight Lieutenant Chris ‚Haz‘ Hasler, from 27 Squadron, describes his role in the assault:

RAF Chinook pilot, Flight Lieutenant Chris ‚Haz‘ Hasler
[Picture: Staff Sergeant Will Craig, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

„After an in-depth planning and briefing process my crew and I walked to our Chinook for the morning assault.

„We had known about Op MOSHTARAK since our arrival in theatre back in December and, as we loaded our troops and engaged the rotors, we were acutely aware of the complexity of the operation we were about to execute.

„With eight minutes to go to launch I noticed a splattering of oil accumulating on the windscreen. We consulted our ground crew who advised us to shut down the aircraft so that they could climb on top for a closer look.

„After a short interval, which seemed like a lifetime, they told us that there was a leak from one of our rotor blade nods [night observation devices] but that the Chinook was safe to fly.

„With that information we set about restarting the cab as quickly as possible – a process that normally takes 15 minutes. We were airborne and in formation in less than five minutes, overall a minute later than planned.

„We struck out at low level under the moonless night towards our objective which was the insurgent-held town of Showal.

Flight Lieutenant Chris ‚Haz‘ Hasler in the cockpit of a Chinook
[Picture: Staff Sergeant Will Craig, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

„En route to target the ambient light levels were so poor that even our NVGs [night vision goggles] struggled to provide much more than a dark green nothingness.

„However, with only a few short miles to go, the goggles erupted in a bright and clear picture provided by infrared flares, invisible to the naked eye, dropped from a circling C-130 Hercules from overhead.

„On short finals to the target, the formation of Chinooks tightened spacing and pitched noses up hard to decelerate quickly. The back wheels dug into the soft ground of the muddy field and we disgorged our complement of Royal Welsh and ANA [Afghan National Army] troops. Seconds later we were wheels up and racing back to Bastion airfield to pick up our next chalk of soldiers.

„In just over two hours our packet of four RAF Chinooks had delivered approximately 650 soldiers to the heart of the insurgency. An insurgency who after being forewarned of our attack wisely kept their heads down or fled the scene.

„At 0610 we stopped the rotors and after a quick debrief headed for bed. We wouldn’t get much sleep as we were taking over the Immediate Response Team helicopter later that day.“

Ministry of Defense, UK