Tag Archives: Tornado GR4

In 1986 U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered Britain the F-117 stealth jet

Recently declassified documents show that U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher access to the American stealth technology.

Recently declassified documents from the British National Archives have exposed something interesting: back in 1986, the then President of the United States Ronald Reagan offered British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a chance for transatlantic cooperation on Stealth technology.

As reported by the Guardian, under the name “Project Moonflower,” the former POTUS offered Downing Street a briefing on the Black Project and the opportunity for the U.S. and the UK to work together on it.

“Dear Margaret,” a 1986 US telegram obtained by the Guardian recorded, “I am delighted to hear that you will be able to see Cap [Casapar Weinberger, the US defence secretary] to discuss the special program I wrote you about … I look forward to receiving your reaction. Sincerely, Ron.”

But the UK turned down the chance to work with the U.S. stealth technology and acquire F-117 stealth jets, that had made their first flight in 1981 and would continue to secretly operate until they were revealed to the public in 1988, a couple of years before becoming famous during Desert Storm in Iraq.

Indeed, an MoD letter in December 1986 to Charles Powell, the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser, informed him that “Mr Weinberger has offered us a chance to purchase the current US aircraft but we have replied that we would not wish to actually buy hardware while the programme remains strictly black [secret].

After the first offer was rejected a modified version of the baseline F-117 was reportedly offered to the UK’s Royal Air Force in 1995.

Believed to be dubbed F-117C, the British variant, was planned to be equipped with “B-2 type intakes, a F-22 type clear-view canopy, British avionics, F414 or EJ200 engines, plus a number of BAE structural components or sub-assemblies.

The aircraft, also referred to as the F-117A+ or F-117B (B for “British”) was being offered as a replacement for the Tornado GR4 and it is believed that this was the reason why some RAF pilots eventually flew the Nighthawk stealth jet before it was (somehow) retired in 2008.

Even though the stealth technology that made the F-117 invisible to radars was cutting edge back in the mid-80s, the Tornado GR4 has been a pretty successful weapon system that the Royal Air Force has extensively used in combat in all the conflicts and crisis support operations it has taken part in the last 20 years.

Meanwhile the first UK’s stealth has eventually arrived in the form of a much controversial Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

 

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Outstanding low-pass departure of a special colored Royal Air Force Tornado from RAF Northolt

Watch this Tornado perform a deafening low take-off instead of the usual noise abatement departure.

RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force airport located in west London, 10 km to the north of London Heathrow airport.

The airport is the homebase of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron of the Royal Air Force that operates VIP and general air transport roles and also handle a large number of general aviation flights.

According to aircraft spotters, fast jets visit the airport every now and then (unless they are deployed there as happened during the Olympic Games in 2012), usually adhering to strict noise abatement procedures that foresee a quick climb and are aimed to cause the least disturbance in the areas surrounding the airport in Greater London as well as proper deconfliction with the rest of air traffic.

But, there are some interesting exceptions, as happened on Oct. 7 when Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 ZG750 “Desert Pink”, the special colored “Tonka” that celebrated the 25th Operation Granby Anniversary, performed a pretty unusual and awesome low take off on departure from RAF Northolt after a night photoshoot organized there.

Here’s a cool video, published by BluelightTV YT channel, showing the low take off (much lower than usual according to the locals) from a head-on point of view!

A RAF Tornado GR4 was given the iconic Gulf War ‘desert pink’ paint scheme to celebrate 25 years of continuos combat ops

The Royal Air Force has unveiled a new special-colored Tornado.

The RAF has painted a Tornado GR4 fighter-bomber in ‘desert pink’ paint scheme to honour the aircraft type’s almost continuous operational service since the Gulf War 25 years ago.

Desert Pink Paint Scheme

The jet, ZG750 and based at RAF Lossiemouth with XV(R) Squadron, was one of those that took part in Operation Desert Storm (code-named Operation Granby by the Royal Air Force), the air campaign to free Kuwait.

Tornado GR4

On Feb. 28, 2016, on the 25th anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s forces’ withdrawal from Kuwait, the aircraft will perform a flypast at the National Arboretum during an event honouring the British forces involved in the Gulf War.

25 years on Operations

The aircraft fin carries 11 “battle honours,” recalling the Tornado’s almost continuous service on operations worldwide since 1991, an achievement proudly remarked by Air Vice-Marshal Gary Waterfall, who is responsible for RAF strike aircraft as Air Officer Commanding 1 Group RAF: “The Royal Air Force can look back at Tornado’s service on Operation Granby with great pride. In the 25 years since the Gulf War, Tornado has proven itself again and again to be a formidable strike aircraft with an enviable operational record; today it continues to serve the nation in the fight against Daesh.”

Special colored Tornado

Image credit: Crown Copyright

Interesting picture shows a fully armed RAF Typhoon participating in ISIS air war during AAR

RAF Eurofighter Typhoons have joined the service Tornados in air strikes against the Islamic State.

Taken on Dec.22, 2015 from the boom position aboard a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker belonging to 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron (EARS), this interesting photo shows a fully armed Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 as it receives fuel over Iraq.

It is one of the first ever taken to a RAF Eurofighter performing a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the air campaign conducted against ISIS: interestingly the aircraft carries 4x Paveway IV bombs, along with 4 AIM-120 and 2 ASRAAM air-to-air missiles.

Deployed to reinforce the RAF contingent at Akrotiri, Cyprus, from Dec. 3, 2015, the Typhoon is actually a multirole aircraft, even if (unlike the Tornado GR4 attack jets) it can only carry Paveway LGBs. In fact Brimstones and Storm Shadows are pending integration in the following years, before the retirement of the RAF Tonkas from active service.

Image credit: Staff Sgt. Corey Hook / U.S. Air Force

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Cool night pictures show RAF fast jets participating in Ex. Trident Juncture 2015 from Spanish airbase

The Royal Air Force fighter jets have taken part in Trident Juncture 2015.

As the following unique night photos show, most of the RAF fast jets involved in the largest NATO exercise since 2002 were based at Albacete, Spain which became temporary home to 1(F) Squadron and 31 Squadron for the duration of the Trident Juncture 2015 3-week exercise.
Tornado RAF 2

Noteworthy, the RAF fast jet crews performed day and night sorties in a range of scenarios varying from leading offensive strike packages of 40 aircraft, to night combat search and rescue supported by US Air Force CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
Typhoon RAF 1
The Tornado GR4s from 31 Squadron and the Typhoon FGR4s from 1(F) Squadron have also had the chance to work together during several missions of the drill: throughout these mixed formation sorties in fact, the Typhoons protected the Tornados on the way into a target and then both the machines simulated dropping Paveway IV precision bombs. The Typhoons then switched back to the air-to-air role to fight their way out.
Tornado RAF 1
During Trident Juncture 3000 flying sorties were flown, 1,200 in Spain alone, where 120 aircraft were spread over seven air bases.  The aim of Trident Juncture 2015, which took place from Oct. 3 to Nov. 6, was training the troops of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and other Allied forces, to increase their readiness to respond to a wide range of challenges.
Typhoon RAF 3

Image credit: Crown Copyright