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