UPDATE PHOTO GALLERY: RAF Marham welcomes home squadron from Libya action

Returning personnel replaced by Marham's 9 (Bomber) Squadron

RAF Marham personnel who have served in Libya since operations began there in March have returned home to a warm welcome from their families.

The squadron has flown the equivalent of three times to the moon during its time based in Italy and flying over Libya to protect civilians as the rebel forces battle to topple the Gaddafi regime from power.

Members from 2(AC) Squadron returned to the UK from Operation Ellamy having worked every day since arriving in mid-March.

The Tornado GR4 force has racked up more than 5,400 flying hours in just five months - a figure normally achieved in two years of training sorties for one squadron.

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'What we have achieved on Operation Ellamy wiill stay with me for ever, we have been writing history day by day. We have flown the equivalent distance of around the world 88 times - or to put it another way, to the moon and back more than three times. That is incredible,' said Wng Cmmdr Neil Tucker-Lowe.

Tornado and Typhoon aircraft have been used both in a reconnaissance role and for carrying out precision strikes on military targets across Libya as part of NATO's Operation Unified Protector.

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Just last week crews from 2(AC) Squadron engaged a moving boat which had been commandeered by pro-Gadaffi forces which had been defending an oil refinery used by the regime.

'They attempted to use the patrol craft to rejoin the fight further along the coast but as it was clear that they still presented a threat to the Libyan civilians around them, permission was given for the crew to engage the vessel with a Paveway IV bomb,' said an RAF spokesman.

It was the first time a Tornado crew had used a Paveway IV to take out a moving target of that nature.

'The strike sent out a clear message to pro-Gaddafi forces - there is nowhere to hide from coalition air power,' said the spokesman.

RAF Marham's role in the operation will continue as 9 (Bomber) Squadron from the base is now in Italy to replace their returning colleagues.

'I very much look forward to continuing this momentum and working as part of NATO to protect the Libyan civilians,' said commanding officer Wng Cmmdr Andy Turk.

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