Thursday, December 10, 2009
It’s amazing how quickly things can change here – the other day was typical of how within a few hours the circumstances can change from one extreme to the other.
We’ve had a fairly quiet period recently, with very few aircraft ‘scrambles’ (this is where we get an urgent tasking to get a pair of armed Tornado aircraft airborne to support ground troops in need of immediate air support) then yesterday it suddenly all happened within the blink of an eye. The call came from the Operations desk and the crew bolted out the door shouting “SCRAMBLE!”.
Before anyone even got near the scramble bell – fashioned out of a fired-out 110mm artillery shell and a couple of 27mm aircraft round (bullet) casings – the groundcrew were hot on the crew’s heels and in the minibus to get to the flight line, a few hundred metres away.
The crew-in was slick, having already ‘cocked’ the jet (a term derived from cocking a weapon, which, with a 27mm cannon and armed with precision guided bombs and missiles, the Tornado GR4 definitely qualifies as), both aircraft were ‘wheels-up’ and overhead the ground troops over 100 miles away within minutes.
On this day we launched the Ground-Close Air Support (GCAS) aircraft twice more, on what was anticipated to be a ‘quiet day’. It is this sort of requirement that gets the whole of the engineering shift fired up and motivated about being out here.
By Flt Lt David Hirst