2(AC) Squadron Tornados, to the moon and back

An RAF Tornado surrounded by personnel from 2(AC) Squadron / © Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

An RAF Tornado surrounded by personnel from 2(AC) Squadron / © Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

Posted By Philip Stevens

Servicemen and women from 2(AC) Squadron are returning to RAF Marham after supporting UK missions over Libya as part of Operation Ellamy.

Tornado missions over Libya have taken place every single day since operations began in March and the Tornado GR4 Force have racked up over 5400 flying hours in the last 5 months – the equivalent of 2 years worth of training sorties for one squadron back in the UK.

Addressing his Squadron at Gioia del Colle airbase, Officer Commanding 2(AC) Squadron said, “When I look at you all, I see many professional individuals but one amazing team. What we have achieved on Operation Ellamy will stay with me forever, we have been writing history day by day. We have flown the equivalent distance of around the world 88 times – or to put it another way, to the moon and back over 3 times. That is incredible”.

Tornado and Typhoon aircraft have been used both in a reconnaissance role and for carrying out precision strikes on military targets across Libya as part of the UK contribution to NATO’s Operation Unified Protector which aims to protect Libyan civilians from attack.

The demands placed on the Tornado aircraft and its crews have been unrelenting but man and machine have proven time and time again just how capable they and the platform are.

On 18 August 11, crews from 2(AC) Squadron engaged a moving patrol craft that had been commandeered by pro-Qadhafi forces (PQF). The PQF had been defending the Az Zawiyah oil refinery – a key source of oil for the Qadhafi regime – when a NATO airstrike against their vehicles forced them to flee the area. They attempted to use the patrol craft to rejoin the fight further along the coast but as it was clear that they still presented a threat to the Libyan civilians around them, permission was given for the crew to engage the vessel with a Paveway IV bomb.

This was the first time a Tornado crew had used a Paveway IV bomb to take out a moving target of this nature and the strike sent out a clear message to pro-Qadhafi forces - there is nowhere to hide from coalition airpower.

Wing Commander Tucker-Lowe handed over command of the Tornado Force Element to Wing Commander Andy Turk, Officer Commanding 9(Bomber) Squadron, also of RAF Marham.

Wing Commander Turk said, “It is a pleasure to take back the reigns of the Tornado Force Element of Operation ELLAMY. 2(AC) Squadron have done a fantastic job executing the full range of airpower capabilities that the Tornado offers. I very much look forward to continuing this momentum and working as part of NATO to protect the Libyan civilians”.

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Source: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

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