January 17th 1991 – First strikes of Gulf War cost RAF two Tornado aircraft

Tornado GR.1 Desert Storm

The Royal Air Force’s Panavia Tornado GR.1 was one of the most versatile combat aircraft available to the Coalition forces poised to remove Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army from Kuwait. A total force of sixty Tornado GR.1s participated in Operation: Granby, the British contribution to Desert Storm, flying from Tabuk and Dhahran in Saudi Arabia as well as Muharraq in Bahrain. The aircraft were instrumental in helping keep the Iraqi Air Force on the ground and flew most of its missions at very low level under the cover of darkness.

Naturally, with such a dangerous mission there would be casualties and two aircraft were lost on the first night when Iraqi defences were at their heaviest. ZD791/BG flown by Flight Lieutenants Peters and Nichol was shot down attacking Ruma airfield. Both crew were captured. The other aircraft was ZA392/EK flown by Wing Commander Elsdon and Flight Lieutenant Collier. Their aircraft was lost attacking Shaibah air base and both crew were killed.

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