617 Squadron, famed for their daring second world war raids against the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams, has completed its last flight as a Tornado Squadron over the skies of Afghanistan and has returned to the UK.
Their last flight was in support of coalition troops; the Tornado Force in Afghanistan undertake the very demanding and vital Close Air Support and Reconnaissance roles, providing protection and information from above directly to commanders on the ground.
The statistics of Dambusters’ last tour in Afghanistan are astounding: the Squadron accumulated 188 missions and logged more than 1500 flying hours. In an article published on the RAF website Mark Jackson said:
“As I stepped down from the aircraft for the last time, my emotions were mixed. Tinged with sadness is an overwhelming sense of achievement for what the Squadron have accomplished. I am sure that the original Dambusters felt a similar poignancy at the end of their iconic raid and would echo how very proud I am of those that serve today.”
It will be a temporary disbandment though as the unit will reform in 2018, with both Royal Air Force and Navy personnel and it will be equipped with the F-35B Lightning joint strike fighter.