UK Tornados Busy in Iraq


2015-02-22 Although on their way to retirement, the UK Tornados have been busy in Iraq.

The missions of the Tornados will be taken over in part as the Typhoons receive weapons currently being used by the Tornados in their missions, including Brimstone.

According to the UK Ministry of Defence:

On the afternoon of Wednesday 18 February, two RAF Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri conducted an armed reconnaissance mission over northern Iraq to provide close air support to the Kurdish peshmerga, who have conducted a series of successful offensives to liberate their countrymen from the terrorists.

The Kurds reported coming under rocket fire, and after an intensive search the GR4s were able to locate an ISIL truck-mounted rocket launcher, and attacked it, scoring a direct hit with a Brimstone missile.

The Kurdish peshmerga are also receiving infantry training from a team of coalition instructors, including British military personnel.

Also see the following:

And since we published this piece, Eurofighter has provided a press release on the Eurofighter upgrade contract which will highlight in part the upgrades subsuming some Tornado missions.

Eurofighter has today released details of a new capability contract valued at EUROS 200 million delivering a suite of new enhancements to the Eurofighter Typhoon.

As well as introducing a number of upgrades to the Eurofighter’s mission and maintenance systems, the contract, known as Phase 3 Capability Enhancement, will equip the Eurofighter Typhoon to deploy multiple precision-guided air-to-surface weapons at fast-moving targets with low-collateral damage. It further confirms the aircraft’s full multi-role, swing-role capability.

Details of the new enhancements were revealed at a press briefing at the IDEX defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, today, Sunday 22nd February 2015 at a contract signing in the presence of Philip Dunne, UK Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, accompanied by  Alberto Gutierrez, CEO of Eurofighter and Air-Vice Marshal Graham Farnell and representatives from the other Eurofighter customer nations: for Germany, General Erhard Bὔhler, Director Defence Plans & Policy; representing Italy, Lieutenant General Enzo Stefanini; and for Spain, Ministry of Defence, Secretary of State, Pedro Arguelles, all showing their support for this essential capability.

Alberto Gutierrez, the CEO of Eurofighter, said: “This capability upgrade gives the Eurofighter Typhoon unrivalled full multi-role and swing-role capability. Although the prime focus is the introduction of the Brimstone 2 missile required by the UK RAF, P3E enhances the capabilities of the Storm Shadow long-range strike missile, the Meteor, Paveway IV and ASRAAM weapons, as well as introducing modifications to further improve the aircraft’s already impressive availability. Support for the contract will come from all four core nations and the enhancement package will benefit all who use it.”

Eurofighter P3E contract signing IDEX. Credit: Eurofighter
Eurofighter P3E contract signing IDEX. Credit: Eurofighter

Air Vice-Marshal, Graham Farnell, the General Manager of NETMA (NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency), who signed the contract on behalf of the core customer nations, said: “Over the last 18 months the Eurofighter Typhoon community has enjoyed a significant acceleration to the weapon system capability enhancement programme and I am pleased to say we have been able to agree a number of major contracts which really drive the weapon system’s contribution to air power.”

He said: “The agreement of the P3E contract is further evidence that this is a Programme which keeps on delivering.  As the hugely successful Panavia Tornado moves towards the last decade of its life cycle, it is highly re-assuring to know that the mantle will be picked up by the Eurofighter Typhoon. Brimstone 2 capability is both a unique and welcome addition to the capability portfolio, and whilst it is just a part of the P3E story, Brimstone represents an extremely important capability to have.”

The four nation contract between the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain will form the basis for the next major Eurofighter enhancement, the Phase 4 Capability Enhancement contract, now in its ‘definition phase’. This will lay the foundation for the Nations’ Combat Air capability requirements into the next decade.

The Phase 3 Enhancement contract is scheduled for delivery in 2017. All four core nations will work on flight control and avionics and the contract will centre round a scheduled programme of weapon testing, the development and testing of flight control systems, and finally store clearing and store release testing. The initial fit for the Brimstone 2 missiles on the Eurofighter will see two launchers fitted to the outboard pylons of the Eurofighter each carrying three Brimstone 2 missiles.

The full swing-role, multi-role weapons compliment on the Eurofighter could now include a mix of: six Brimstone 2 missiles; up to six Paveway IV bombs, two long-range Storm Shadow missiles, four Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missiles and either two IRIS-T or two ASRAAM heat-seeking missiles.