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Six Luftwaffe Tornado recce aircraft yesterday returned from Mazar-e-Sharif to their home base of Jagel in snowy northern Germany. Since they were deployed to Afghanistan in April 2007, the Tornados conducted 4,500 missions numbering 8,000 flying hours, reconnoitering 14,000 targets and producing over 50,000 images.Photo: Bundeswehr/WilkeStarting in October 2009, these images could be delivered while the Tornados were still airborne, whereas before the aircraft had to land and the film had to be developed on the ground. Not everyone seems to have noticed as the German Ministry of Defense felt compelled in September after the Tornado withdrawal was announced to release a clarification that the aircraft were capable of sending real-time imagery.Some 50 members of Aufklärungsgeschwader (Reconnaissance Wing) 51 “Immelmann” to which the Tornados belong will remain in Afghanistan to evaluate the imagery taken by Luftwaffe Heron-1 unmanned aerial vehicles.Starting in January 2011, the Tornados will form a German-based rapidly deployable reserve for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. How rapid it will actually be is open to question: approval by the Bundestag, the German parliament, will be required in order to send it back to Afghanistan.
ar99, Germany, Tornado, Afghanistan
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