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1 540lb bomb
2 CRV7 rocket pod
3 Empty outrigger
4 External fuel tank
ANKING thousands of feet above the
brethren on the ground in factors which affect aerial 5 Sniper targeting pod
Hindu Kush, Lt Cdr Phil Lee reveals
Helmand. operations here, including 6 Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod
the fi repower carried by naval aviators
Sorties are airspace restrictions,
organised by the engineering issues, events
in their battle with the Taleban and
Mission Support on the ground, and features
sit down with the cell team for a is pretty good, the facilities are
insurgents in Afghanistan. Cell – the brains and a Q&A for pilots.
debrief and thorough analysis of particularly good, and the naval
Here, above the country’s Mean Time – a slight
heart of the strike After that planning for the
the mission, allowing intelligence ethos and matelot sense of
second city, Kandahar, the complication as the
wing’s operation in mission itself takes place in
staff to ‘fi ne tune’ their picture of humour do export rather well.”
lunar landscape and featureless time locally is four
Afghanistan. earnest – and it normally devours
the situation on the ground. Indeed it does. For a start
expanse of sand meets the and a half hours ahead
It’s down to the cell several hours.
After two months in theatre there’s Three-Mile Mountain
south-eastern tip of the Kush (luckily the Allied air forces
to arrange the pilot rota, Having planned the minutiae
out of a four-and-a-half-month to the north of Kandahar – four
with its rocky outcrops and in the region also work to
oversee aircraft availability, of the fl ight, the strike wing
deployment, the strike wing miles north of Kandahar to be
scrubland. GMT).
liaise with the ground forces pilots take to the air, while the
is settled into its routine in precise.
The Naval Strike Wing pilot At least two Harriers must be
(through a Royal Marines cell passes on vital updates.
Afghanistan... and getting used
“For those of a hill-walking
– callsign Phlee – fl ies a Harrier ready to scramble at all times in
captain), manage air traffi c Mission accomplished, the
to the ubiquitous fi ne talcum-
persuasion, it looks inviting,” Lt
GR7, one of eight jump jets response to calls from troops on
control (keeping aircraft apart) pilots radio a report on any
powder-like sand and dust
Gray added.
based at Kandahar from where the ground.
and run fi ghter control (directing engineering issues which need
which penetrates everything.
“A visit isn’t recommended –
they support Allied operations In addition there are the Harriers on to their targets). addressing and the Harriers’ “The choice of what to wear
due in part to the numerous land
in the provinces of Helmand and regular sorties in support of It’s a control centre which is armament status – all of which each day is simple: a fl ight suit
mines dotted around, legacy
Kandahar. the peacekeeping mission in buzzing 24 hours a day, every allows a quick turn-around on for the aircrew or camoufl age kit
of Afghanistan’s many years of
And that’s not always easy Afghanistan. day. the Kandahar tarmac should for those on the ground,” said
confl ict.
because the NSW are in a time From Kandahar the Naval Missions begin with a ‘met the jump jet be needed again staff offi cer Lt Mike Gray.
“Still, it appears pleasant
zone all of their own. jets are within striking distance brief’ – not just a weather urgently. “But despite being in a dusty,
enough in the morning sun.”
The fl iers work to Greenwich of operations by their RM forecast, but an overview of all Once on the ground, the pilots land-locked location, morale marina Royals in Helmand, page 15
● Flare force one... Lt Cdr Lee releases decoys high above the Hindu Kush
003_NN_Dec.indd 1 19/11/07 17:18:16
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