Last week personnel from No 1 Expeditionary Logistics (EL) Squadron and No 2 Mechanical Transport (MT) Squadron have been preparing and transporting the tonnes of equipment and supplies needed to sustain Typhoon jets as they patrol the skies over Eastern Europe.
The RAF has a leading role in NATO Black Sea Air Policing, known by its military name as Operation Biloxi. Scores of RAF Support Force engineering and logistics personnel will be based at Romania’s Mihail Kogălniceanu air base, named after the country’s third prime minister. Moving military equipment across international borders requires a significant planning effort.
Senior Aircraftman Alex Bennett-Yard (32) works at 2 MT Squadron and has played a leading role in the logistics planning for Operation Biloxi. He said: “It’s an involved and detailed process. We have to make sure that our drivers are fit and fully trained, the schedule has to work in order get all the right equipment there on time, but the kit has to travel with all the proper diplomatic and international clearances in place.”
Whilst 2 MT Squadron will transport the equipment to the military port at Marchwood, a team from 1 EL Squadron has been making sure all the kit is properly prepared. Mobility Supply Flight has prepared all the freight needed by the RAF for this mission, including the specialist airfield vehicles, and will oversee the shipping to Romania.
Acting Sergeant Lee Markham (31) has been involved in the logistics effort for four Baltic Air Policing Missions. He said: “It’s our biggest task of the year, and we’ve been involved from the start, preparing and packing all the kit to travel by air and sea for the A4 Force Elements. Our Port Liaison role sees us manage freight, ISO containers and vehicles from across the RAF ready for travel on the ferry.”
Biloxi is one of the first major operations for the newly formed RAF Support Force, of which the A4 Force Elements are a part. The RAF Support Force brings together most of the capabilities and skills needed to sustain modern air operations and exercises; specialist engineering and logistics, advanced military communications, tactical medical services and the mountain rescue team.
Op Biloxi will also be supported by A4 Force engineering units. 5001 Squadron are preparing specialised temperature-controlled storage facilities and maintaining the shelters and ground equipment used by the Typhoon jets. 93 (Expeditionary Armaments) Squadron will manage and safely store the weapons carried by the aircraft.
Group Captain Jo Lincoln is Commander of the A4 Force Elements and Deputy Commander of the RAF Support Force. She said: “In many ways, this is what the Support Force is all about, making sure that the right equipment is in the right place at the right time. It sounds like a simple thing, but modern air power depends entirely on having the right kit on the ground, ensuring those aircraft and their crews are appropriately enabled.”