Tornado Tech: How Air Support Was Provided to Op Moshtarak
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued July 1, 2010)
A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 carrying the Litening 3 targeting pod used to great advantage in counter-IED missions in Afghanistan. (UK MoD photo)
On 10 Mar 2010, 2 Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s were tasked in support of OP MOSHTARAK to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the semi-desert area to the North of Nad-e-Ali.

The specific task was to search for IEDs in support of 1st Battalion Scots Guards and in order to achieve this, the Tornado crews established contact with the Battalion’s operations room and in particular the Company Forward Air Controller.

The Tornado GR4s, using their LITENING III targeting pods, capable of monitoring activity day or night, identified 4 people digging in 2 separate locations close to or on tracks across the desert which ISAF vehicles use on a regular basis.

The LITENING pod’s high-resolution full motion video of the 4 people digging was fed live into the Battalion’s Operations Room where the Forward Air Controller observed in real-time the activity identified by the Tornados. The Forward Air Controller requested that the Tornados maintained constant surveillance of the identified area. The Tornados were then informed that an Armoured Infantry Platoon had been dispatched to interdict the individuals and were re-tasked to provide armed overwatch of the Platoon during the operation.

As the Warriors approached the area, the individuals of interest ran to a nearby compound. The Tornados maintained constant surveillance and were able to talk the Platoon on to the right compound which was then immediately surrounded. As there was no immediate threat to life, the ground commander did not require the Tornados to carry out an attack, but they were tasked to maintain surveillance and deter any potential escalation of the situation by adopting an overwatch posture. Ground forces proceeded to enter the compound and detained a suspected insurgent without further incident.

The Platoon then carried out detailed searches over the area originally identified by the Tornados to confirm the presence of any IEDs.

In his post mission report the Forward Air Controller said “Due to the professionalism and enthusiasm from both crews of the Tornado formation, the close coordination and the rapid employment of the Platoon, the reaction to this incident was exceedingly fast and effective. I believe the speed of reaction and close co-ordination of everyone involved in the operation has sent a clear message that ISAF forces can appear anywhere at any time.”


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