RAF Marham squadron return from Afghanistan

As the future of RAF Marham looked to be secure one of the four squadrons based in Norfolk returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan this week

XIII squadron, who are known as 'The Stabbed Cats', touched down early on Wednesday morning just hours after the prime minister announced he would not be axing the Tornado fleet in the House of Commons.

Leaving Operation Herrick, the RAF Marham squadron handed over operations to RAF Lossiemouth based 14 Squadron.

This week the squadron's wing commander Howie Edwards praised his team's 'professionalism and determination'.

He said: 'XIII Squadron has produced an outstanding team effort and after three months toil my personnel are looking forward to a well-earned rest', he said.

'I am immensely proud of the professionalism and determination that they displayed through what has been an exceptionally busy period.

'We are extremely happy to have returned to our homes, friends and families in Marham, Norfolk and I also wish to thank everyone who supported our efforts.'

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During their three-month tour defence secretary Liam Fox visited the squadron and approved plans to send out two extra Tornado GR4s to join the RAF effort in Afghanistan.

The RAF Tornadoes are deployed in Afghanistan to provide close air support to friendly troops on the ground.

They also fly reconnaissance missions to identify potential areas of insurgent activity and to finding Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Good weather, festivals and presidential elections in Afghanistan made their tour particularly intense, an RAF Marham spokesman said.

They were greeted from the aircraft by RAF Marham station commander, group captain Pete Rochelle.

They were then taken to the Squadron where they were welcomed home by families and friends.