The UK’s Royal Air Force, having been a background player in the fight against Daesh, recently began their first strikes in Syria following a Parliament vote in favor of the campaign. Within hours, five-hundred-pound Paveway bombs fell with the most forceful of intentions from Panavia Tornado GR4 fighter-bombers onto Daesh-controlled oil fields.
The swing-wing Tornado, affectionately known as the Tonka, is an aged but distinguished and combat-proven veteran, having first seen combat with the RAF during the 1991 Gulf War with both ground attack and F3 air defense variants in theater. Originally conceived in late 1960s for strike missions deep into a heavily defended Warsaw Pact nation, the Tornado’s swing-wing design allows for supersonic speeds at low altitudes, making it well suited for such strike missions. The RAF’s Tornado GR4 variant is an all-weather (day or night) attack and/or reconnaissance powerhouse and despite its European Cold War beginnings, most of the type’s combat operations have been in the Middle East.
The RAF’s Tonkas have been regular visitors to the US, commonly frequenting major exercises such as Red Flag at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Although its numbers have been slowly dwindling as more of the RAF’s newer Eurofighter Typhoons come online, for now the GR4 continues to soldier on, proving its worth in combat operations over 36 years after the type first entered service with the RAF.
At home, the GR4s are a common sight in the numerous low-flying areas around the UK, and the RAF’s GR4s used to perform a two-ship airshow routine, demonstrating for the public various tactics that the Tornado crews employ in combat operations. The video above shows just how good the Tornado is at bringing the noise (courtesy of two Rolls Royce RB199 engines) while taking off during the UK’s famous Farnborough Airshow.
Enjoy your look at this beast, for she probably won’t be around for too much longer! Happy Burner Friday, FighterSweep Fans!
(Featured Photo by Jonathan Derden)