Tag Archives: Panavia Tornado

Royal Air Force fast jet and spyplane support UK’s Flood Relief Efforts

One Tornado and one Sentinel R1 provided valuable support to the flood relief operations across UK

Hi-tech equipment carried by two Royal Air Force aircraft was used in the last few days to provide detailed aerial imagery of the areas affected by the floods in the Thames Valley, UK.

A 31 Squadron Tornado GR4 from RAF Marham carrying the RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Air Pod for Tornado) gathered high-resolution imagery that was brought back to the base to be processed and assessed by RAF analysts before being passed to civilian authorities.

RAF Tornado

The optical imagery provided by the Tornado’s reconnaissance pod was complemented by the radar pictures taken by  a Sentinel R1 aircraft operated by the 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron from RAF Waddington airbase, which was launched on Feb 13 following the Tornado’s sortie.

Flood imagery

The Sentinel is a long-range ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform with extensive combat experience in Libya and Mali, equipped with an all-weather radar system and electro optical sensors that is capable to produce photo-like imagery of a large parts of the ground: these images are then used to map the areas hit by the devastating flooding and assist in the identification of those at a higher risk of further flooding.

Sentinel R1

Image credit: RAF / Crown Copyright


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German Tornado attack plane crashes. Pilot rescued from tree branches

On Jan. 16, a Tornado fighter bomber belonging to the German Air Force crashed south east of Laubach, not far from Büchel airbase in central western Germany.

Both the pilot and the navigator (a WSO – weapons system officer in the American mil aviation jargon) ejected from the plane with minor injuries; one of them was rescued while hanging from a tree as the following image (credit Rhein Zeitung) shows.

Hanging on tree

Here below is a photo of the doomed plane taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Caglieri at Decimomannu airbase in April 2013.


Image credit: Euronews, Rhein Zeitung and Alessandro Caglieri

H/T to Emiliano Guerra for providing additional details


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Saudi Typhoon and Tornado aircraft take part to Exercise Green Flag in the UK

Since Sept. 2, Royal Saudi Air Force Typhoons and Tornados are deployed to RAF Coningsby, in the UK, where they are training together with the Royal Air Force.

RSAF Tornado 2

The four Typhoons belong to the 3 Sqn, whereas the Tonkas are from the 75 Sqn. Also deployed to Coningsby from Marham are six Tornado GR4s.

RSAF Tornado 1

During the first two weeks, the Saudi aircraft took part in the Green Flag exercise that saw eight Tornados and eight Typhoons take off in pairs for two daily waves (one in the morning and the other one in the afternoon, both lasting on average about 2 hours).

RSAF Typhoon two-seater

Noteworthy, each two-ship flight was made of a RAF and RSAF aircraft.

RSAF Tornado takeoff

After attending the Green Flag, the Saudi Typhoons and Tornados remained in the UK to continue working with the British aircraft for two more weeks.

RSAF Typhoon landing

The images in this post were taken at RAF Coningsby by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito.

RAF Typhoon

Image credit: Alessandro Fucito

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These are the most awesome pictures of Italy’s largest military exercise

As already explained in the report about the Air-to-Air Refueling mission we took part,  Ex. Star Vega is this year’s largest Italian exercise.

Centered on two Main Operating Bases, Decimomannu and Trapani, were the tactical planes were based; Star Vega 2013 saw the participation of all the types of assets of the Italian Air Force, including the C-130J and C-27J cargos from Pisa, the KC-767s from Pratica di Mare; and the Italian UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) from Amendola.

Star Vage 2013 AC_115

The following images were taken by Alessandro Caglieri and Gian Luca Onnis at Decimomannu airbase where the attack planes were based.

Tornado ECR of the 50° Stormo from Piacenza:

StarVega Onnis 16

Star Vage 2013 AC_68

StarVega Onnis 12

Tornado IDS of the 6° Stormo, from Ghedi:

Star Vage 2013 AC_18

Star Vage 2013 AC_26

Star Vage 2013 AC_47

Star Vage 2013 AC_52

Star Vage 2013 AC_104

StarVega Onnis 7

AMX of the 51° Stormo, from Istrana:

Star Vage 2013 AC_73

Star Vage 2013 AC_69

StarVega Onnis 17

Lockheed Martin “Dragon Star” Airborne Multi-Intelligence Laboratory (more on this platform will be published in a future piece):

Star Vage 2013 AC_90

Star Vage 2013 AC_92

C-27J of the 46^ Brigata Aerea from Pisa:

Star Vage 2013 AC_37

StarVega Onnis 11

Image credit: Alessandro Caglieri and Gian Luca Onnis

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Flying activity at one of the busiest airbases in Europe

With several European air forces forced to ground squadrons, reduce flying activity (with significant impact on their preparedness to react to the surge of Russian air force bombers and spyplanes missions) and cut hours destined to the aircrew training just like happening in the U.S. as a consequence, of sequestration cuts, there are few airbases where aircraft enthusiasts can still spot some intense flying activity (but the few that are hosting a large exercise).

Deci 2013 1

One of them is Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, where aircraft belonging to several Italian and foreign services (including U.S. ones, sporadically) deploy to undertake air-to-air and air-to-surface live firing activities.

Deci 2013 7

Few weeks ago, we published the images of the Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to all the Italian Air Force squadrons equipped with the European fighter jet, deployed at “Deci”.

Deci 2013 3

The images in this post, taken by The Aviationist’s contributors Gian Luca Onnis and Alessandro Caglieri, show some of the aircraft recently deployed in the Sardinian base.

Deci 2013 13

Noteworthy, along with the Italian Air Force AMX and German Air Force Tornado fighter bombers, Decimomannu has hosted in April the last detachment of the WTD-61′s F-4 Phantoms.

Deci 2013 14

The F-4 is going to be retired by the GAF later this year.

Deci 2013 17

Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis, Alessandro Caglieri

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