An RAF Tornado Squadron is being put through its paces at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland this week as it makes final preparations for a deployment to Afghanistan.
Dubbed ‘War Week’, the exercise is the culmination of months of training for 12 (Bomber) Squadron who will soon depart for a 4-month tour at Kandahar Airfield. The RAF Tornados provide vital support to ground forces in Afghanistan including the gathering of reconnaissance imagery using sensors carried aboard the aircraft.
Challenges have come thick and fast for all personnel involved. Insurgent rocket attacks, unexploded bombs, road accidents and other events are carefully stage managed to test the reactions of airmen. Each event is closely monitored and participants receive a full debrief on their performance after each training serial.
Despite these challenges the Squadron has maintained its flying programme, launching several Tornado GR4 strike aircraft each day to fly training sorties identical to those they will conduct in Afghanistan. Once airborne the Tornado crew work closely with RAF Regiment Forward Air Controllers, deployed at various locations in Scotland, to hone their skills.
Officer Commanding 12(B) Squadron is Wing Commander Simon Strasdin who said: “What we’ve achieved has been quite remarkable in terms of our readiness and capability to go to theatre. We’re ready to go.”
Leading the team providing the training is Squadron Leader Simon Reade who said: “War Week is the final confidence building exercise that provides a safe environment to practice the skills they’ve been instructed in prior to the deployment to Afghanistan.
“It unifies the squadron in their preparations for Afghanistan and ensures they deploy with a sound understanding of what they might be required to do in support of ISAF [International Security Assistance Force]. War Week is very much about the team and how the team performs and the Squadron have engaged fully.