Twelve Panavia Tornado GR4s and six Eurofighter Typhoons are currently supporting operation Unified Protector from Gioia del Colle air base in Italy, with the combination having flown more than 1,100 sorties and almost 2,400h by earlier this month.
Together they have performed 15% of all air strikes for NATO, but 27% of its more challenging dynamic strikes, he said. The latter refer to emerging targets prosecuted during non pre-planned attacks, such as striking ground-based threats like rocket launchers being used to fire on civilians at the time of their identification.
Bagwell said 90% of the RAF’s strikes to date have been dynamic in nature, and often conducted in urban areas. Its closest coalition partner [France] has recorded a roughly 60% total, while two – Italy and the United Arab Emirates – have made 100% of their strike contributions during so-called deliberate missions against fixed targets.
RAF Tornados have flown more than 3,000h and released more than 300 Raytheon Systems Paveway IV precision-guided bombs and over 120 MBDA dual-mode Brimstone air-to-surface missiles, said Wg Cdr Andy Turk, officer commanding the RAF’s 9 Sqn.
Originally assigned to providing air policing cover, RAF Typhoons have dropped more than 70 Enhanced Paveway II laser-/GPS-guided 226kg (500lb) bombs since also being made available for ground-attack duties. The service continues to operate the type in mixed formation with its Tornados.
It has now been announced that 4 more Tornado GR4 are to be deployed, mainly in the reconnaissance role with the Goodrich Raptor pod. There have been several calls lately to remedy to lack of ISTAR and intelligence and reconnaissance, and the defence ministry has said that the problem now is to "find the targets", which often hide into urban areas.
More than one expert has noticed, in answer, that the retirement of the UK's Nimrod R1 that so well were doing on the operation was thus twice as demented a decision, and i can only agree with this assessment.
18 July 2011
The MOD has provided some more evidence about the activity of another vital part of the Libyan effort: the VC10 air tanker fleet activities and whereabouts have been published. 2 tankers from 101 Sqn are based on the italian airbase of Trapani Birgi, in Sicily, much closer to the target than the attack planes based at Gioia del Colle. One more is based in Cyprus, on Akrotiri air base. Two are involved in Herrick ops in Afghanistan, one is of course in the Falklands, and another is in stand-by back in the UK, in Brize.
The two VC10s based at Trapani (a third is at RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus) fly up to three missions a day. One aircraft will fly, return, refuel, and fly again later the same day.
The VC10s at Trapani are commanded by Squadron Leader Tim Kemp, who said:
"Tanker support is crucial for the fast jets to spend any meaningful time over Libya.The fast jets flying over Libya need fuel, and plenty of it, and the VC10 can lift a lot of it to where it's needed. It does of course not only refuel UK's jets, but also coalition warplanes, from Italian Harriers to Canadian's F18s.
"I am proud of what people are achieving here. When we deployed here, there was nothing. We were flying operations within 36 hours of arriving."