The Ministry of Defence has announced that, in the coming days, the UK will deploy an additional four RAF Tornado GR4s to Gioia del Colle air base in Italy, primarily in the reconnaissance role to further support operations over Libya.
The aircraft are in addition to 12 RAF Tornados already deployed at Gioia del Colle. This latest deployment is intended to bolster NATO’s reconnaissance capability. Equipped with RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for Tornado) pods, RAF Tornados can provide extremely detailed reconnaissance imagery over large areas.
The deployment will have no effect on operations in Afghanistan.
In an update on Libya operations, Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Communications Officer, said:
“British forces have again been in action over Libya, protecting civilians from the depredations of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime.
“Yesterday morning [Thursday 14 July 2011], a Royal Air Force patrol located a BMP armoured personnel carrier near Zlitan, to the west of Misurata. A precision attack by a Typhoon multi-role fighter, using a Paveway guided bomb, successfully destroyed the vehicle.
“The precision, accuracy and weight of NATO’s air strikes have caused significant damage to Gaddafi’s regime forces attacking Libyan people – the RAF alone has to date damaged or destroyed more than 500 military targets including command and control sites.
“But, as the campaign has progressed, the regime is increasingly attempting to conceal troops, equipment and headquarters, often in populated areas.
“Gathering the intelligence needed to precisely target these forces remains a key part of NATO’s efforts in prosecuting this campaign.
“That is why in the coming days the UK will deploy an additional four RAF Tornado GR4s to Gioia del Colle, primarily in the reconnaissance role to further support this effort.
“As a formidable attack aircraft this deployment will also provide a useful secondary increase to NATO’s overall strike capability.
“NATO already benefits from the twelve RAF Tornados already deployed at Gioia del Colle. This latest deployment will bolster NATO’s reconnaissance capability. The deployment will have no effect on operations in Afghanistan.”