Specially painted Tornado GR.4 One million flying hours would be enough for one aircraft to fly 16,000 times round the globe, to the moon and back 800 times or to the sun and back twice. / © Crown Copyright/MOD 2011
The RAF’s ground attack Tornados currently serving in Afghanistan and Libya have clocked up a staggering one million flying hours. Number 617 Squadron “ The Dambusters” took the aircraft through the landmark in Afghanistan this week.
The RAF’s deep strike and reconnaissance aircraft were first flown by the RAF in 1979 and have been at the forefront of operational service ever since. From its service in the Gulf spanning 20 years and two Gulf Wars, through its operations in the Balkans and current deployments to Afghanistan and Libya, Tornado has proven itself in battle time and time again.
Tornado has a range of highly accurate precision missiles and bombs that can destroy a vast range of targets from aircraft and small moving vehicles on the ground to heavily fortified bunkers. The aircraft also has a selection of high-tech sensors that can detect hostile enemies, pass live day and night video to troops on the ground and take detailed reconnaissance pictures as they have done over Helmand Province and Libya.
Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said: “This impressive milestone is testament not only to the Tornado as a cutting edge military aircraft but also to the skill and professionalism of the RAF aircrew, engineers, and support staff who have supported it in service for more than 30 years, and who continue to deliver its world leading ground attack and reconnaissance capabilities today in Libya and Afghanistan.”
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, said: “Tornado has been used to deny enemy airfields and strike their hardware and infrastructure, enforce no fly zones, provide close air support to troops on the ground and it continues to be a world leading combat intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft in Afghanistan and Libya.
“The range of sophisticated precision weapons and cutting-edge sensors Tornado carries and the ability to grow these capabilities further will provide the Royal Air Force with the rapid far-reaching air power it requires to protect the nation’s interests for many years to come.”
Source: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011