Op Ruman, the joint humanitarian aid operation providing disaster relief to the UK territories devastated by Hurricane Irma has ended and it's time to return home for the aircrew and engineers who have dedicated themselves to disaster relief for weeks.
Hurricane Irma, followed by Hurricane Maria in September, was the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded and has battered the Caribbean and Florida, leaving unimaginable devastation in its wake.
The first of two permanently based A400M aircraft in Barbados from 70 Squadron based at RAF Brize Norton arrived back just after 6pm, followed later by a Voyager in the early hours of Thursday morning marking the start of the end. The footage below shows the moment the A400M aircraft touched down in RAF Brize Norton.
For 70 Squadron this has been an incredible demonstration of their capability operating the UK’s A400M aircraft. Station Commander of RAF Brize Norton Group Captain Tim Jones said:
"To see the way that the teams come together to do it has been really beautiful to watch. I just wish we could bottle this kind of team work and enthusiasm because it's been an amazing atmosphere."
Based in Barbados throughout the operation, the aircraft have been transporting people, aid and supplies to the hard to reach locations alongside the C-130 Hercules also from RAF Brize Norton.
The entire operation was covering an area similar in size from the north of Scotland to the south of France. RAF Brize Norton has been pivotal in the operation right from the start with almost every section of the station involved in the operation.
The footage below shows the moment the A400M landed at RAF Brize Norton and BFBS Brize Norton's Alex Gill speaks to RAF Brize Norton's Station Commander, Group Captain Tim Jones.
All four types of aircraft at RAF Brize Norton reacted quickly right from the start. The C-17 moving around 61,000lbs of freight at a time, the Voyager transporting people and the A400M along with the C-130 delivering aid on the ground to the hard to reach areas. Station Commander Gp Cpt Tim Jones said:
“Within 24 hours of getting the call we had four aircraft out there and several hundred Royal Marines. Within 72 hours we had moved 500 people and 70 tons of freight and it’s been like that ever since”
It’s an operational tempo RAF Brize Norton hasn’t seen since the days of Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan and one of the largest the joint humanitarian aid operations in recent times.
For 70 Squadron, it was a proud moment. Op Ruman was the first major operation the Squadron have been at the centre of with the A400M ATLAS aircraft. Officer Commanding 70 Sqn Wing Commander Ed Horne said:
“The aircraft has really come into its own in this kind of scenario where the aircraft have been transporting all kinds of freight and people rapidly into difficult conditions and very short runways”