At a time when the British armed forces seem to be on a near constant decline it must have come as a welcome relief for some in the RAF when it was announced this week that No.12 (Bomber) Squadron operating the Tornado GR.4 will be given another year of service thanks to ISIS. The unit, which has been operating from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, has been at the forefront of the war against ISIS in Iraq but was due to disband next year and begin transitioning on to the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4. This would have seen their Tornado aircraft recycled to support the remaining Tornado squadrons. Now it seems the squadron’s aircraft have become indispensable in the fight against the Islamic extremist group.
The decision was greeted enthusiastically by the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford whos said:
It is clear that the requirement for fast jet precision strike and intelligence gathering shows no sign of diminishing.
The Tornado GR.4s operate alongside the RAF’s Reaper Remotely Piloted Vehicles or drones also operating in the war torn region and for their part have flown more than 1,100 combat missions. Of this number almost a quarter saw the release of ordinance against ISIS forces while the remainder primarily concerned gathering intelligence using the advanced RAPTOR reconnaissance pod or being on hand should they be needed to support the Iraqi army.