British Tornado GR4 Strikes in Syria

The Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado GR4 has conducted its first airstrike on December 3, hitting Islamic State (IS) oil fields. Prime Minister David Cameron insisted the oil fields are funding IS attacks against the West.

A Royal Air Force Tornado lands at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
A Royal Air Force Tornado lands at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Four Tornado GR4 took off from the RAF Akrotiri air base in Cyprus a few hours after the British Parliament approved the use of air strikes against IS in Syria.

The Tornado GR4 used guided missiles, most likely the 500lb Paveway IV, to hit oil fields in the Omar oil fields in Eastern Syria. Six strikes were successfully conducted.

Paveway IV are being used on Tornado GR4 bombers. By RAF Coningsby
Paveway IV are being used on Tornado GR4 bombers. By RAF Coningsby

According to the RAF website, “Paveway IV significantly increases the RAF’s capability to deliver precision effects matched to the target set. The weapon is cockpit-programmable and allows the aircrew to select weapon impact angle, attack direction and fuzing mode to detonate in airburst, impact or post-impact delay modes. The fuze minimizes collateral damage through the ability to detonate the weapon when buried or partially buried, and is fitted with a ‘Late-Arm’ safety functionality that will not allow an off-course munition to arm. The warhead is also designed to meet the latest requirements of NATO Insensitive Munition safety policy.”

The Tornado GR4 are also dropping Brimstone missiles.

British Brimstone missile
British Brimstone missile

The RAF website states that the Brimstone does “ground acquisition and target recognition are achieved by a millimetric wave radar seeker. The weapon locks onto a target after launch and is designed for the attack and destruction of armoured targets. Steerable fins guide the missile towards the target with final impact causing a tandem charge warhead to detonate. The first, smaller warhead nullifies reactive armour, allowing the follow-through charge to penetrate the main armour. It is designed to be carried by the Tornado GR4 and Typhoon F2. The weapon can be used in Indirect and Direct modes. For Indirect attack weapons are launched when the targets and their position are not visible to the attacking aircraft. In Direct mode the pilot can use an on-board sighting system to select the target, which can lie off the aircraft’s track, so that pilots do not need to manoeuvre to release weapons. The weapon flies at low level, using its on-board navigation systems to head for the target and searching, using its radar, to distinguish between valid and non-valid targets. Brimstone can be programmed to start searching only in target areas, limiting risks to friendly forces.”

“That strikes a very real blow at the oil and the revenue on which the Daesh terrorists depend,” Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC.

“It is in Syria where they pump and sell the oil that does so much to help finance its evil acts,” Cameron told parliament on Wednesday ahead of the vote.

Although the Royal Air Force has taken part in the U.S.-led “Operation Inherent Resolve” coalition against IS in Iraq, many targets have already been identified in Syria, especially in eastern and northern Syria.

“There are plenty more of these targets throughout eastern, northern Syria which we hope to be striking in the next few days and weeks,” Fallon said. He said Britain was sending eight more warplanes to Cyprus to join the missions.

A British Tornado jet flies above RAF Akrotiri, a peninsula on the southern coast of Cyprus where Britain retains a military air base, Cyprus December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou -
A British Tornado GR4 jet flies above RAF Akrotiri, a peninsula on the southern coast of Cyprus where Britain retains a military air base, Cyprus December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

On December 2, the British Parliament approved the use of air strikes in Syria after a successful vote of 377-233 in favor of Prime Minister David Cameron. Just under a third of Labor Party MPs, the leftwing official opposition, voted for military actions.

Since the attacks in Paris on November 13, many British lawmakers have strengthen their resolve to bring the fight to Syria, taking the initiative instead of reacting to possible future terror attacks against its citizens.

 

 

 

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Jonathan Wade, CD

Jonathan Wade is the director of the ‘The Sentinel Analytical Group’ and a decorated veteran of the Canadian Forces. Specialized in tactical, strategic, intelligence and geopolitics analysis, Jonathan has a fondness for technical details. His military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, Jonathan brings in in-theatre experience. Jonathan writes about Russia, Canada and Arctic.