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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 19:50 GMT 20:50 UK
RAF Afghanistan footage released
Cockpit footage
The footage, which was released by the MoD, was shot last week
Footage of Harrier pilots bombing Taleban targets in Afghanistan has been released in an attempt to improve the public's perception of the RAF's work.

Shot last week, it shows the cockpit view as munitions fall on targets, as well as planes landing and taking off.

The release was to show the operational role of the Harrier "in support of the ground troops", a wing commander said.

Defence chiefs denied the move was in response to recent criticism that the RAF was "utterly, utterly useless".

The boots on the ground are incredibly important but they only achieve success if they have got the support in the air
Wing Commander Trevor Field

That claim was made in a leaked e-mail by Major James Loden of 3 Para, the main UK battle group, based in the north of the southern province of Helmand. He accused a pilot of not being able to identify a target.

Dismissing suggestions that the release of footage came in response to this criticism, Wing Commander Trevor Field said: "This has been planned for a long time. All the public see on the TV at the moment is boots on the ground.

"The boots on the ground are incredibly important but they only achieve success if they have got the support in the air.

"These guys are coming in fast and low and have a different perspective to what the guys on the ground have."

He admitted that the RAF had received "some really bad criticism recently", but stressed "this is not in direct response to that, but we are trying to explain to the public what we are doing".

Bombs and rockets

The Harriers featured in the footage are part of the Joint Force Harrier detachment which are operating from Kandahar airfield in southern Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick.

The MoD also released details of the sharply rising numbers of rockets and bombs being deployed by UK Harriers.

I have been flying for 14 years and nothing has compared with this for the intensity of operations undertaken
Wing Commander Ian Duguid
Use of the ground-attacking CRV7 rocket rose from 58 in July to 426 in August.

The use of Enhanced Paveway 2 - a precision 2,000lb laser-guided bomb for penetrating hardened targets - rose from nil to 29 over the same period.

The Harrier planes have also been called on by ground troops to target Taleban fighters and their strongholds.

Wing Commander Ian Duguid, Officer Commanding 4 Squadron, said: "I have been flying for 14 years and nothing has compared with this for the intensity of operations undertaken.

"The troops on the ground are in a very hostile environment and facing a Taleban determined to win and not give any ground. This has reflected in the intensity of our support operations.

"During Operation Medusa we were operating against up to 12 targets a day."


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