Op Maturin 18 Oct - Nov 2005
RAF provides first vital air lift capability for NATO led earthquake relief effort
Report from Islamabad
With 860 tonnes of Aid to move, comprising of 104,000 blankets, 10,000 tents, 2,400 stoves, the Royal Air Force is providing a vital Air Lift capability to the Earthquake Relief Effort in Pakistan , as part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). Tonight, a Royal Air Force C130-J Hercules from RAF Lyneham was the first Aircraft to arrive in Islamabad with the initial 9 tonnes of these vital supplies.
A small contingent of Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel, including the C-130-J Hercules Aircrew of 24 & 30 Squadron based at RAF Lyneham, accompanied by members of the RAF's UK Mobile Air Movements Section, Royal Air Force Engineers, Police and the Tactical Air-Land Coordination Element (TALCE) - all also based at Lyneham, left the base on Tuesday 18 October 05, to begin the journey nearly half-way round the globe to begin conducting the Air Lifts
In the light of worsening weather conditions and an increasing need for further support to the earthquake hit region of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir , the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) requested support from the NATO alliance, including one of it's most recent members, Turkey . This alliance meant the UNHCR could use the Turkish Air Force Base at Incirlik as a co-ordination point for the Aid which was brought in by road from UNHCR Warehouses in Iskander. The NRF was then able to use the Air Base as a Forward Operating Base for the onward journey to Pakistan .
The Royal Air Force flight was the first to arrive at the Chaklala Military airport in Islamabad and was greeted by Brigadier General Antonius Strik, Chief of the NATO Operational Liaison Team. With no time to waste, the pallets were off-loaded immediately, freeing the aircraft to return to Turkey to collect more Aid. Further NRF aid flights are due to begin arriving in Pakistan over the next few days, including those provided by France , Greece and Italy .
The UNHCR Spokesman and coordinator at Incirlik , Turkey , said
"This Air Lift is a vital link in the Chain for us. The co-ordination of moving the Aid Resources is a huge and complex task. Having the assistance of the Royal Air Force and their NRF colleagues to move the supplies into Pakistan makes our job possible."
Text and Images - RAF Website