RAF and USMC co-ordinate air campaign over Afghanistan
In the south and south west of Afghanistan, a team from the RAF is working with the US Marine Corps (USMC) on the daunting task of co-ordinating the use of some of the world’s busiest airspace.
Members of the RAF’s Aerospace Battle Management Team and the USMC Air Wing are colocated in a dusty, quiet and benign corner of sprawling Camp Leatherneck, a home from home for the US Marines serving in Helmand province.
The detachment is parented by the RAF’s 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, only a short drive into adjoining Camp Bastion; however, all of the UK’s Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS) personnel live, work and socialise with their US Marine colleagues at Leatherneck, further enhancing their operational experience.
This close transatlantic partnership is responsible for controlling air power in one of Afghanistan’s most volatile areas. The airspace above Helmand and Kandahar provinces is a complex mix. As well as the many military remotely piloted air systems, fast jets, support helicopters, air-to-air tankers and transports, there are civilian aircraft to contend with, and there may even be missiles or artillery shells in the air that have to be added to the constantly changing three-dimensional picture.