The Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado attack aircraft of 12 squadron currently serving over the Middle East, have been given more time by UK Defence secretary Michael Fallon. The squadron and its aircraft will continue to fly until March 2017. Earlier, the squadron was scheduled to retire its Tornados by last March, but that move was postponed until March next year. Now, the squadron has been given yet another year.
The decision marks the importance of the Panavia Tornado, an aircraft type that could be described as as a Cold War dinosaur but still provides a valuable day and night, all-weather attack capability in the fight against ISIS. The RAF Tornado GR4s operate out of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and can carry precision-guided Paveway bombs and Brimstone missiles. They are also used for surveillance and intelligence-gathering missions.
The Tornado is in the winter of its life nevertheless. The type is scheduled to be replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II, of which the RAF already operates three for training and testing purposes in the US.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An RAF Tornado as seen from a Royal Canadian Air Force tanker aircraft. (Image © Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND)