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."