At the 2011 Royal International Air Tattoo, in Fairford, UK, the Royal Air Force held a media briefing on operations in Libya. Some of the key points from the briefing have been summarised below:
“I’ve now completed 30 sorties in support of United Nations [Security Council Resolution] 1973, with an average sortie length of 5 hours, so I feel qualified to say that the Typhoon has come of age. In just over 3 months we’ve flown almost 1300 hours, the same as a Typhoon circumnavigating the Earth 24 times.
Although, this isn’t to take the focus from Typhoon’s operational history: it is on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on Quick Reaction Alert in the UK and the Falklands.
However, Typhoon’s rapid deployment to Gioia del Colle air base in Italy, 72 hours from the initial UN mandate and subsequent first mission on Operation ODYSSEY DAWN 12 hours later, are testament to the deployability and relevance of this new generation aircraft.
More impressive has been the “re-roling” of Typhoon and its pilots from an air-to-air aircraft to an air-to-ground fighter-bomber.
“From a pilot’s perspective, the aircraft is spectacular. Despite spending on average 7 hours in the cockpit per mission you could not find a more comfortable aircraft to fly. The cockpit is large by fast-jet standards and the information from the radar, DASS and LINK-16 is displayed easily and accessibly. This allows you to function at 100% capability throughout the sortie, not plagued by fatigue or a lack of situational awareness.
“Due to the aircraft’s huge excess power it enables the flight from Gioia to Libya, some 650 miles, to take just over an hour, cruising at 40 000 feet, 0.9 mach, even with a war load of 4 Enhanced Paveway II 1000 lb bombs, a Litening III Targeting POD, AMRAAM and ASRAAM missiles.
“Overall, I’ve been fortunate to oversee the maturation of the RAF’s first multi-role combat aircraft since World War II. More than that, as a Service we’ve been fortunate to have at our disposal an aircraft that fulfils the RAF’s mantra of being agile, adaptable and capable; as an American airman said to me, ‘that’s a lot of bang for the buck’.
“This is reinforced by the fact that the average hours flown per aircraft during this operation have increased from 24 to nearly 90 per month, which demonstrates the platform’s stunning serviceability.
“Together with the Tornado GR-4, Typhoon has enabled the UK to meet its commitment to the UN-mandated Libyan no-fly zone whilst still providing Air Defence of the UK and its dependencies.”
Below can be found some Operation Ellamy data shown at the briefing, relating to the combined fleet of RAF Tornado and Typhoon:
- Sorties flown: 1,114
- % completed sorties on NATO total: 21%
- Hours flown: 2,395
- Average sortie time: 2.14 hours
- % of all NATO strikes: 15%
- Typhoon ATO: 97%
- Tornado ATO: 97%
- Typhoon strikes: 91
- Tornado strikes: 455
- Overall success rate: 97%