The German air force has sent a fresh detachment of six Panavia Tornado reconnaissance aircraft to Mazar-e Sharif in Afghanistan as part of its nation's continued commitment to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force operation against the Taliban.

Pictured transiting through Decimomannu in Sardinia on 8 April, aircraft 44+46 is assigned to the air force's 51 Sqn at Schleswig-Jagel air base, which first sent aircraft to Afghanistan in April 2007 under an originally six-month mandate from the German parliament.

 Tornado recce
© Peter Foster

Expected to run for six months, the fresh deployment takes place against a backdrop of growing public discontent within Germany at providing continued support to ISAF operations, but also as NATO presses the nation and other alliance members to increase their contribution of troops and equipment to support leading nations including Canada, the UK and the USA.

NATO says German Tornados "can reach their area of reconnaissance quickly and cover a large area in a very short period of time", without the need for support from inflight refuelling aircraft.