Sunday, April 4, 2010

The LuftRAFfe: British pilot and German navigator share Tornado in first-ever join combat flights

By Christopher Leake, Daily Mail

An RAF pilot and an aviator from the Luftwaffe have flown together on a combat mission for the first time since Britain and Germany were bitter Second World War enemies.

The two airmen joined forces in the skies above Afghanistan in the war against the Taliban.

Last night, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that an RAF flight lieutenant had piloted a Tornado GR4 supersonic jet with a German navigator behind him in the cockpit.

Afghan allies: A tornado GR4, like the one piloted by two airmen from Britain and Germany

The Luftwaffe major - the equivalent of a squadron leader in the RAF - speaks perfect English and is said to have fitted in well with his British counterparts at Kandahar air base.

The pair provided 'top cover' --alerting British and US ground troops on Taliban positions. It is understood that although their Tornado was loaded with bombs, they were not deployed.

Until now, RAF and Luftwaffe pilots and navigators have flown together only on slow-moving C-130 Hercules transport aircraft in Afghanistan as part of a reciprocal scheme under which air crew are seconded to other Nato countries.

The new era of co-operation, however, has not prevented wags in the RAF's 31 Squadron, based at Marham, Norfolk, from cracking the odd joke about the German navigator.

An RAF source said: 'There was a bit of banter when it was discovered that an RAF pilot was to fly with a Luftwaffe navigator. But he proved to be an outstanding professional and made a valuable contribution to protecting troops on the ground.

'When you are in the air, there is only one issue: are you able to do your job to the required standard? In this navigator's case, he proved himself more than up to the job.' The German navigator is not only of a more senior rank than his British counterpart, he is also paid more.

The source added: 'Squadron personnel understand that German air crew received about £100 a day more than their British counterparts while in Afghanistan.

'This caused a fair amount of grumbling among the British air crew, but there was nothing they could do about it. Let's face it, the Government isn't likely to raise their pay.'

Another squadron source said: 'The Second World War was a long time ago and we are more than happy to work closely with our German allies against a common enemy.'

The Tornado flown by the Anglo-German crew on 18 missions between December and January was armed with 500lb laser-guided Paveway IV bombs and Brimstone air-to-ground missiles.

The Luftwaffe navigator --who, like the RAF pilot, cannot be identified for security reasons - was posted to Afghanistan at the request of the German government, which wanted him to work with 31 Squadron, considered one of the RAF's best.

The Luftwaffe operates a fleet of 115 Tornado fighter-bombers.


  1. complaining about the German payment whilst being deployed isn't quite fair unless you also compare the base payment which favours the british quite a bit if I am not mistaken completely...

  2. I think some of this article was made in 'jest' however I can understand why the RAF would be aggrieved that others are paid more (FOR DOING THE SAME JOB)- so what if base payments are more - at the end of the day, they're not on base now! Just thinking - grew up with the 'German' jokes - amazing what 6 decades can do!