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Fri, Aug 13, 2010

Extra RAF Jets Being Sent To Afghanistan

Two Tornado Jets Will Increase Air Support, Provide Greater Protection For Ground Forces

Two additional Royal Air Force Tornado jets are being sent to Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has announced Wednesday while visiting British forces serving in the country. Dr Fox, on his second visit to Afghanistan since being appointed Secretary of State, confirmed that the two Tornado GR4 aircraft have been sent from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, and are due to arrive at Kandahar Airfield Thursday August 12.


RAF Tornado Jet

The deployment follows a request by the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), General David Petraeus, for an increase in air support to provide greater protection for ground forces. The aircraft will join the eight RAF Tornado GR4s already providing support to the multinational pool and will boost flying hours by 25 per cent, or an extra 130 flying hours per month.

"The deployment of these two extra aircraft is another illustration of the UK Government's commitment to achieving success in operations in Afghanistan," Fox said before leaving Afghanistan Wednesday. "Tornado GR4s provide essential air cover to our Service personnel on the ground and lead the fight against deadly IEDs [improvised explosive devices] from the air. The intelligence these assets provide to coalition forces will enable commanders to have the eyes in the sky that they need to protect their troops and help increase security for local people."

An increase in the number of ISAF and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) personnel on the ground in southern Afghanistan has generated the requirement for additional air cover. The demand for capability provided by the fast jets is also expected to increase in the run-up to the Afghan elections in September 2010. Following discussions, the Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, and the Defence Secretary have agreed that the extra Tornados will deploy for three months.

Joined on the visit by the Chief of Joint Operations, Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the Defence Secretary also visited forward operating bases as well as units based at Camp Bastion and Kandahar Airfield. They saw first-hand the training of ANSF, which is ahead of schedule and represents the key to enabling British forces to eventually leave Afghanistan.

The Defence Secretary also met the next generation of Afghan National Police during a visit to the recently-established Helmand Police Training School, where raw recruits are turned into fully-trained policemen ready for work. The school has just turned out its 1,000th recruit.

"The presence of British forces in Afghanistan is an absolute national security imperative, but, as both the Prime Minister and I have said, we do not wish to see our troops remain in the country a moment longer than necessary," Fox said. "The key to bringing our personnel home is achieving a situation where Afghanistan's own army and police are fit to take over the security responsibilities we currently perform. This visit has demonstrated to me, beyond any doubt, that this process is well on track."

FMI: www.mod.uk

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