The events of 11 September 2011, and the 'global war on terror' that followed, resulted in the launch
of Operation 'Enduring Freedom' (OEF) by the United States on 7 October 2001. Frank Visser visited Afghanistan several times and this report he focuses on some of the air assets that were used during this campaign.
Early combat operations on 7 October 2001 included a mix of air strikes from land-based F-15Es,
B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers, carrier-based F-14 and F/A-18 fighters and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from both United States and British ships and submarines. The aircraft were supported by extensive aerial refueling so targets could be reached. The plan was to rely on air power and precision weapons, aided on the ground by United States Special Operations Forces, who would work alongside with Afghan groups opposed to the Taliban and identify and validate targets for allied aircrews.
Royal Air Force Harrier GR7 seen taking off from Kandahar Airfield. This aircraft is equipped with two GBU-49.
Royal Air Force Harrier GR7A returning from an OEF mission.
The Harrier is a fierce weapons platform. This RAF Harrier has several bomb marks that shows their action against al-Qaeda and Taliban-led terrorist groups.
The reconnaissance and targeting role was essential. OEF was a particularly challenging campaign because it involved a low-density target setting, with only a few massed land force targets. Air assets which performing this role were the MQ-1A/B 'Predator', RC-135s, and the E-8C JSTARS.
During the start of OEF the UAV MQ-1 'Predator' was use intensively for reconnaissance and targeting. Later the
MQ-9 'Reaper' also entered the scene.
Fully loaded this MQ-9 takes off for a OEF mission from Kandahar Airfield.
Also used for reconnaissance was this unmarked WB-57F.
In this campaign many different types of bombs were used extensively like the GPS guided GBU-31,32,38 JDAM, BLU-109B and BLU-110B, and GBU-12, GBU-24 and GBU-49. The initial military objectives of OEF included the destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure within Afghanistan, the capture of al Qaeda leaders, and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
An Air Force Reserve HH-60G from 301 RQS making a sharp turn.
During the months that followed, several countries from all over the world joined forces in the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban-led terrorist groups active in Afghanistan.
The United States Marine Corps were active during OEF. This CH-53E is seen taking off from Kandahar Airfield.
Returning from its OEF mission over Afghanistan this KC-130J seen landing at Kandahar Airfield.
Many OH-58s 'Kiowa's' were used by the Americans as Hunter Killer teams.
An North Carolina ANG C-130H. These aircraft delivered the supplies and personnel for OEF.
A rare seen in Afghanistan is this RAF Canberra PR.9.
Used for Special Operations this RAF Hercules C5 is seen taxiing at Kabul International Airfield. In the background Dutch and Norwegian F-16s can be seen.This particular aircraft crashed in the Helmand province.
A British Hercules C3 crew during a flight from Kabul International Airport to Kandahar Airfield.
An Royal Air Force Hercules C4 at a dirt strip.
An Royal Navy Sea King HC-4.
An Australian Air Force C-130J-30 delivering supplies. To avoid mortar attack aircraft kept their engines running so they could take-off as soon as the goods were delivered.
The co-pilot of this Australian Air Force
C-130J-30 seen at work during a mission over Afghanistan.
Australian Air Force C-130J-30 lift of from the dust strip of Tarin Kowt Airfield.
Vertical-T was one of many contractors which operated in Afghanistan. Here one of their Mi-26 helicopters is seen approaching Tarin Kowt in the province of Uruzgan.
The same Mi-26 now taking off from Kandahar Airfield.
After 13 years, the United States and NATO ended their combat mission in Afghanistan in December 2014.