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Dambusters finish first Herrick detachment


The Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron, known as the ‘Dambusters’, has handed over the mantle of resident Tornado GR4 detachment at Kandahar.

July 22: The Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron, known as the ‘Dambusters’, handed over the mantle of resident Tornado GR4 detachment at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan to 31 Squadron, the ‘Goldstars’, on July 15.

It was the first full-time deployment of 617 Squadron to Operation Herrick – it had formed part of the initial deployment in July 2009 alongside sister RAF Lossiemouth-based XII(B) Squadron, but only undertook full responsibility for the first time in April this year.

Outgoing Tornado Detachment boss, Wing Commander Keith Taylor, Officer Commanding 617 Squadron said “617 Squadron is proud to have supported Coalition ground forces during our three-month tour, with the majority of our tasking in support of Task Force Helmand. Task Force Helmand has made huge gains in the security of Helmand Province, which has been justly proven by the lack of bombs, missiles and bullets expended by 617 Squadron in their support.”

In the course of its tour the squadron flew more than 420 sorties, accumulating in excess of 1,300 flying hours. It was also in action 68 years to the day after the famous raid on the German Dams – this time the target was a suspected IED factory. The squadron provided support to Canadian ground, providing protection and warning of any suspicious movement in the vicinity. As a result, three insurgents were detained. A sortie by the squadron in late June took the Tornado aircraft through the one million hours in RAF service milestone.

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