Friday, 18 March 2011

Lossie Tornados to the front as Harrier pilots mull p45

Time to fill the petrol tank, it looks like we're going to war against Libya.

We could be waking up tomorrow morning to the sound of gunfire, or at least the effects of precision-guided British weaponry being deployed against Colonel Gaddafi's surface to air missile batteries.

It remains to be seen if the dramatic adoption of "no-fly/any necessary measures" UN resolution will have any practical effect on Gaddafi's ground assault on Benghazi. But there appears to be little doubt about who will be delivering the hard message to the Libyan dictator.

Tornado ground attack aircraft, from the closure-threatened RAF Lossiemouth , are almost certain to be the first British assets used in any military operation against Gaddafi.

The Tornado GR4s, or their brother squadrons from RAF Marham, could fly from a military base in southern France or from RAF Akrotiri, in one of Britain's sovereign base areas in Cyprus, according to the Guardian's well-informed Richard Norton-Taylor

British aircraft and French jets could be in action in the next few hours, with Arab nations backing them and Nato forces and US aircraft in the next wave.

The Tornados have proved themselves in other conflicts but it was unclear whether the newer Eurofighter Typhoons would take part in an operation.

Two Nimrod RAF Reconnaissance aircraft from RAF Kinloss, granted a temporary reprieve from being literally cut to pieces in the defence cuts, will provide high level air cover and tankers would provide air to air refuelling.
(Correction - these are not from Kinloss, as Moray MP Angus Robertson has pointed out in a call from outside RAF Lossiemouth in his constituency)

Britain has two ships off the Libyan coast, and submarine-launched cruise missiles could be used to take out the Libyan air defences too. But where is the Ark Royal when you need her, or the Harrier pilots now mulling their P45s?

With a "hot war" in the offing the immediate political focus has to be on the mission and those putting their lives on the line. But to the sound of the thundering hoofs of war, these defence cuts decisions look pretty hasty.

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