The Joint Force Harrier detachment from RAF Cottesmore currently based in Kandahar, will continue to provide vital close air support and reconnaissance to Coalition and NATO forces operating in Southern Afghanistan, the Defence Secretary John Reid confirmed earlier today. The decision to extend the Harrier detachment until 31 March 2007 was announced to Parliament by means of a Written Ministerial Statement by Adam Ingram, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces. The full text of the statement is reproduced below.
During a visit to Afghanistan, Mr Reid met the Joint Harrier detachment’s pilots and ground crew of 1(F) Squadron(RAF) at their operating base in Kandahar and said:
“We all know what excellent work the Harriers have done here in Kandahar since they first deployed in September 2004. Whether in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) or the coalition, in their reconnaissance role or in providing air support to ground troops under fire, they have been invaluable. It was no surprise, then, when both coalition and NATO commanders asked we extend the deployment of our Harriers.”
“Working alongside our troops deploying into Helmand province and with aircraft from our allies, the Harriers will continue to provide a reconnaissance capability, an air presence to reassure the Afghan people of their security and the capacity to strike against insurgents that may threaten the safety of our Armed Forces and those under their protection. In doing so, they will help the Afghan people rebuild their country as a stable, prosperous and democratic nation free from terrorism. And that is what we are in Afghanistan to do.”
Further information about the Harrier deployment to Afghanistan can be found at: www.raf.mod.uk/stc/gr7/aafghan.html
The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Rt Hon Adam Ingram): The United Kingdom is committed to helping the Afghan people rebuild their country as a stable, prosperous and democratic nation free from terrorism. Our deployment of the Helmand Task Force, announced by My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 26 January, is a major part of that commitment. So is our detachment of six Harrier GR7 aircraft based in Kandahar , which have made an invaluable contribution to the success of both the coalition and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) missions.
Following requests from both NATO and coalition commanders, we have agreed to extend their deployment initially from June 2006 to 31 March 2007 . Working alongside Allied aircraft, primarily from The Netherlands and the United States , they will continue to provide the ISAF with a reconnaissance capability, an air presence to reassure the Afghan people of their security and the capacity to strike against insurgents that may threaten the safety of our Armed Forces and those under their protection. They will also be available to support coalition forces. As now, the detachment will initially be drawn from No.1 (Fighter) Squadron, Royal Air Force. In October 2006, however, the Royal Air Force will hand over the task to 800 Naval Air Squadron, in the first operational deployment of the Fleet Air Arm’s Harrier GR7 squadrons.
Source: The Royal Air Force (RAF)
Picture provided and copyrighted by RAF
For further information about RAF, click here