Marham Tornado squadrons change places in Afghanistan, as operations draw to a close
- Credit: Sergeant Ross Tilly RAF
A Tornado squadron from Norfolk has returned from Afghanistan, while another has flown out to take its place.
RAF Marham-based II(AC) Sqn has handed over operations to stablemate IX(B) Sqn, for what will be the RAF's penultimate deployment to Kandahar.
Airmen and women from Marham's 31 Sqn will be the last to operate in Afghanistan later this year, covering the final withdrawl of British forces.
The latest handover was marked by II(AC) commander Wing Commander Jez Holmes sharing a shift with his IX(B) counterpart Wing Commander Chris Snaith, providing close air support to Allied and Afghan ground troops.
Tornado jets from Norfolk fly sorties 24/7, sharing a rota with the Belgian Air Force. Aircraft use their aerial imaging equipment to monitor activity on the ground and are ready to fly to the assistance of ground troops faced with insurgents.
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'I'd like to recognise how much effort my people have put into this tour,' said Wing Cdr Holmes.
'I'm immensely proud of the men and women of II(AC) Squadron who have delivered on operations once again – they have toiled day and night to provide air support across the whole of Afghanistan.
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'In the process they have supported ISAF troops from all contributing nations and helped to oversee a successful election period and the building of a secure and free Afghanistan.'
Wg Cdr Snaith added: 'II(AC) squadron have done an excellent job and IX(B) squadron's job is to continue that as the pace of change here continues.'
Personnel from II(AC) returned to Marham over the weekend. Families gathered in the early hours to welcome home their loved ones.
Wing Cdr Holmes said: 'The support from families and friends at home, as well as support from the local communities and those further afield, has kept spirits buoyed throughout our deployment and we are especially grateful for it.'
After a short period of stand down, the squadron will return to work and are already looking forward to participating in the D-Day landing and WW1 commemorations marking its 102 year history and its role in both conflicts.