Monday, November 2, 2009
Goldstars squadron takes to the Afghan skies
31 Squadron have now been at the helm of the Tornado detachment at Kandahar Airfield Base or KAF as it is known, Southern Afghanistan for 3 weeks. It is the culmination of 3 months of exercises, briefings, jabs, fitness tests and simulated rocket attacks preparing to take over from the Lossiemouth Tornado Wing who finish their own 4 month deployment after taking over from the Harrier Force in June.
Whilst 31 Squadron will escape the blistering heat of summer, they will be missing their families and loved ones over the Christmas and New Year season making the Christmas parcels and blueys all the more important. Fortunately, the welfare facilities at Kandahar are top notch and there are ample telephones and internet facilities to get in touch with the folks back home.The professionalism of the aircrew and engineers has led to a seamless handover between the Lossiemouth Wing and 31 Sqn. The true test of this came when within 3 minutes of calling “on-state” the Ground Alert was scrambled. Aircraft were airborne and providing armed overwatch of a developing situation on the ground less than 27 minutes later – 31 Squadron had started their tour.
Day to day life here became routine vey quickly, the engineers turn spanners 24 hours a day on 12 on/12 off shifts, whilst the aircrew plan, brief and fly sorties 7 days a week. 31 Sqn is also supported admirably by operational and admin support staff and a small home team are on call to provide welfare support for families at home.
The one thing that cannot be escaped here is the dust and the evening scent that drifts across the accommodation from the on-base sewage treatment works, affectionately known as ‘poo pond’.
Flt Lt Jim Harkin, 31 Squadron