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RAF Tornado’s have been operating at such a pace in support of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, aimed at protecting the civilian population of Libya from attack, they have now clocked up over 7000 flying hours; that’s the equivalent of approximately 2 years worth of training sorties back in the UK, at a much increased flying rate.
Operating from Gioia del Colle air base in southern Italy the tempo of operations has been relentless, and 9 Squadron has been at the forefront of the mission.
The Tornado Squadron was one of the first fast-jet squadrons to deploy to the area, Officer Commanding 9 Squadron, Wing Commander Andy Turk, explains how quickly they had to prepare.
“We deployed here at very rapid notice, we had returned from our pre deployment training exercise (Red Flag) in the United States. In fact, we got back on the Monday, by the Wednesday we were ‘spinning up’ for Ops and on the Friday we were prepared to launch; a historic 3000 mile storm shadow sortie, the first UK launched combat sortie since the Second World War.”
With nearly 30 years frontline Service, the Tornado aircraft have been proving their worth.
Over the skies of Libya they have integrated closely with the Typhoons; indeed with their combined, multi-role capabilities they have proven to be a ‘powerful and potent’ force. Wg Cdr Turk described how this integration has contributed to the success of the RAF’s air campaign and has earned the respect of the coalition.
But its not all about the aircrew, the engineers and Air Maintenance Mechanics (AMMs) of 9 Squadron have been working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep the Tornado aircraft flying, allowing them to complete all their missions, it’s been a huge team effort. Wg Cdr Turk added.
“We’re a really tight team, from the engineers to the aircrew. With the rapidly changing environment that we’re operating in, we have frequently had to scramble aircraft to support the ground effort in Libya and protect their civilian population from attack.”
Despite the unyielding pace of operations, the Tornado force has never failed to deliver, reaching almost 1400 sorties in just over 6 months.
Source:Royal Air Force
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Upcoming national elections in Switzerland and Denmark could re-energize fighter competitions there, although the outcomes are far from certain.
The Danes will cast votes for their representatives in the fall, and industry officials believe the outcome could shape the fighter procurement process, which is unfolding slowly. Last year, Denmark delayed a decision on whether to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Boeing F/A-18E/F or Saab Gripen NG; but a U.S. industry official says the country’s involvement in NATO’s Libyan operations has put renewed focus on fighters and could lead to an acceleration of the program.
Less certain is whether the competitive landscape could change again. Copenhagen earlier opened the door to a new competitor, when it allowed the F/A-18E/F into the battle. Now Eurofighter Typhoon officials are ramping up efforts to jump back into the fray as well.
The situation in Switzerland is similarly fluid. Last year, the government decided to halt the F-5 replacement program to save money and effectively deferred introduction of a new aircraft to no earlier than the end of the decade. The move was a setback for Saab, Eurofighter and the Dassault Aviation Rafale, which were in the running and had undergone extensive trials; Boeing had earlier withdrawn its bid.
The Swiss defense ministry, meanwhile, has begun an assessment on whether the F-5s can be upgraded again to bridge any operational gap. At the same time, Bern is still devising financing plans on how to pay for the eventual Tiger replacement, with a report due by year-end.
But the two chambers of the Swiss parliament are raising objections to the decision by the Federal Council, or executive branch, to hold off on the fighter modernization effort. The National Council, the lower house of the Federal Assembly, has passed a motion to expedite the program, with the other chamber arguing that the replacement decision should come during the next legislative period during 2012-15. But there are differences between the motions passed by the two chambers, which are due to be reconciled in September.
Whether the competitive arena shifts again, or whether any accelerated modernization planning will open the door again to other players, remains uncertain. A European industry official believes a type selection could come late this year or early next, which would restrict the competition to the Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon. The bids put forward by Swiss industry remain valid until the end of the year.
Another element of uncertainty is how the Tiger replacement might be funded. The program to buy roughly 22 aircraft is expected to cost 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.7 billion). Options being studied include raising taxes, generating savings in other areas or selling infrastructure such as airports.
The stakes are high in both contests for all players. Saab, for instance, is eager to secure an export order in Europe for its Gripen, particularly in light of being eliminated from the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft program. Lockheed Martin is looking to Denmark to further expand its European footprint for the F-35. And for Eurofighter, completing deals in Switzerland and Denmark would bolster the company’s effort to secure more European air force orders while supporting its argument to new operators—in Eastern Europe, for example—that acquiring Typhoon offers huge interoperability potential and cooperation opportunities.
Air Force, News AESA, CAPTOR-E radar, Eurofighter EADS, Eurofighter radar, Eurofighter Typhoon, Euroradar, Germany, Italy, RAF Eurofighter, Spain, typhoon, United Kingdom
After one year of industry funding, the Eurofighter and Euroradar consortia have received renewed strong support from the Partner Nations and have agreed to continue the full scale development programme of the next generation E-Scan radar, confirming the 2015 entry into service date.
Supported by the Eurofighter partner nations: the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Spain, Eurofighter GmbH and Euroradar began full scale development of the new CAPTOR-E radar in July 2010.
The new radar will have AESA capability that far exceeds any other radar available today and in the foreseeable future and will be developed to satisfy the requirements of the Partner Nations and customers across the globe.
The new AESA array, larger than the ones available to our competitors thanks to the Typhoon’s voluminous radome, will be fitted on a repositioner that will provide a wider field of regard when compared to those installed or scheduled for introduction on other fighters.
The new radar will offer customers the freedom to retrofit their existing Typhoons when required. The radar will have significant growth potential and both existing and new customers will be able to participate in tailoring the radar to meet their individual operational requirements.
The new AESA Radar is part of the platform and systems enhancement ongoing with Eurofighter to ensure Typhoon leads the way as the world’s best new generation multi-role combat aircraft.’
Blog Articles F3 Tornado RAF, raf tornado, tornado f-3, tornado f3, tornado gr4, typhoon
One of the RAF’s most successful fast jet plane has reached 17 years defending British interests in the South Atlantic while the integrity of UK airspace’s maintenance is ongoing.
The Tornado F3 fighters of 111(F) Squadron based at RAF Leuchars in Scotland have given air defense cover from the Faroe Islands to the Falkland Islands by patrolling UK and NATO Air Policing Area One and by providing aircraft and manpower for 1435 Flight at Mount Pleasant Airfield.
Now in its twilight years, armed F3s and their crews nonetheless maintain a quick reaction alert (QRA) capability 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year to counter any airborne threat in two areas on opposite ends of the globe.
Four Tornado F3s will remain based in the South Atlantic until the autumn when they will be replaced by the Typhoon, the RAF’s latest multi-role combat aircraft, on a one-for-one basis.
The handover will be a historic moment for the veteran fighter which first deployed to the South Atlantic in 1988 to replace the Phantom F1.
The deployed Tornado F3s will then be dismantled in the Falkland Islands before being flown back to the UK where they will be ‘recycled,’ and used as spare parts for the Tornado GR4 aircraft currently operating in support of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, 111(F) Squadron will continue to support UK operations as part of Northern QRA. The Tornado F3 Force will finally stand down in 2011.