AN RAF REGIMENT squadron based in Moray are being deployed to protect one of the most important roles undertaken by the modern air force.
Planning for flights into an operational theatre by crews of the RAF’s C-130J Hercules transport aircraft involves many factors – from planning their route, assessing the air threat, weather, fuel – and the load or weight of their aircraft.
The once thing that they do not need to concern themselves with is protection of their aircraft, crew and passengers when on the ground – as that job is being undertaken by the men and women of the Air Mobility Protection Team (AMPT).
AMPT is provided by specialists from the RAF Regiment and RAF Police who are deployed to any hostile location, providing defence for the aircraft and its personnel. They also assist the crew with an customs or immigration processes that they may need to deal with at their destination.
For the last 18 months personnel from 51 Squadron of the RAF Regiment have been deployed from their Moray base to the AMPT, the gunners despatched in small groups to provide ground protection for around 10 weeks at a time for ‘Operation Shader’.
RAF Police junior non-commissioned officer Cpl Greg explained: “On Operation SHADER our role is to provide on the ground security to the Hercules aircraft whilst it moves passengers and freight in to and around Iraq.”
The 51 Squadron team leave an aircraft before any of its crew and passengers, positioning themselves at various points around the Hercules at the ready to control access and restrict any unauthorised approach.
Should it be required the team are armed and ready to counter any risk to life to their charges or themselves.
Cpl Greg added: “Our presence gives the passengers extra reassurance that they’re being protected and well looked after when they enter or exit high threat areas.
“It also gives the crew additional capacity to focus on their other duties knowing their aircraft is in safe hands.”