Following on from an announcement last year that No.12 Squadron would get a life extension to 2017 it has been revealed this week that the squadron will now serve on even longer until 2018. A factsheet released this week by the MoD stated that;
We will extend the third Tornado ground-attack squadron (No.12) in service until 2018 to continue the fight against Daesh [Islamic State] and be ready for other tasks, then retire the remaining two squadrons of Tornado in 2019.
No.12 Squadron is something of a “comeback-kid” as far as RAF squadrons go. It was disbanded in 2014 after operations in Afghanistan ceased only to be reactivated again in January 2015 to join in operations over Iraq against Islamic State. It was only expected to exist for another year until the announcement was made that it’s life would be extended to 2017 last year.
Ultimately the Tornado GR.4 will be replaced in the ground attack role by the Typhoon which will see more investment into integrating an active electronically scanned array radar and MBDA Brimstone air-to-surface missiles. The strike oriented Typhoon should be able to begin adopting the ground-attack role with Brimstone in 2017. At present the Typhoon primarily utilises Paveway laser guided bombs against targets in Iraq and Syria.