The UK government has detailed its increased troop deployment to Afghanistan, which will see additional helicopters and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) drawn into the theatre.
Speaking to the UK parliament yesterday, defence minister John Reid said the extra 3,300 personnel due to expand operations in the south of the central Asian state will be accompanied by 18 helicopters, four transports and an unspecified number of UAVs.
The UK is to establish a base in Helmand province, working to strengthen the central Afghan government's control over the region, as part of the NATO expansion into southern Afghanistan.
The Parachute Regiment will form the backbone of the air support for the Helmand task force. It will incorporate a force of eight AgustaWestland AH1 Apache attack helicopters, operated by 9 Regiment of the Army Air Corps. 9 Regiment will also supply four Lynx light utility helicopters while 27 Squadron of the RAF will provide a detachment of six Boeing CH-47 Chinook HC2 support helicopters.
The RAF will also deploy four additional Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and a block of Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk UAVs from 32 Regiment, Royal Artillery, 13 Air Assault Regiment and 29 Regiment of the Royal Logistics Corps.
Reid says it hopes the deployments will be fully operational by July. The RAF will also withdraw its detachment of BAe Harrier GR7s at the same time.
JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON
Source: Flight International