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Special Report: Soaring Through The Afghan Skies

In Kabul the helicopters of the Toral Aviation Detachment are a vital way for troops and civilians to move around the Afghan capital.

Helicopters of the Toral Aviation Detachment are a vital way for troops and civilians to move around the Afghan capital, Kabul. 

They move 300 passengers a week and fly 180 hours a month.

The Toral Aviation Detachment includes around 80 British service personnel in total, who all work out of the international airport.

It provides essential air mobility, moving coalition troops and equipment around theatre or undertaking lifesaving medical evacuation for injured troops.

Air traffic is made vital by the IED threat from the Taliban and so-called Islamic State that makes the Afghan capital too dangerous to drive in.

There are just a small number of aircrew, ground crew and pilots in Afghanistan from RAF Benson but they are extremely busy.

Kabul sits in a huge valley – 6000 feet above sea level – and its geography has a great impact on the weather.

The Puma helicopter was chosen to succeed the Chinooks and Merlins in Afghanistan because it performs well in the extreme temperatures and high altitude of Kabul.

Since Op Toral began the Puma crews from RAF Benson have played a vital role  – making up 10% of NATO helicopters in the city.

They will remain in Kabul for as long as British troops are training and assisting the Afghan forces.

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