The Tornado in Iraq

The Royal Air Force’s 12th Bomber Squadron from RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, has just wrapped its latest deployment to Iraq, where RAF Tornado aircraft fly reconnaissance and close air support missions, which they have done for the past five years. The RAF has been sending one squadron at a time for two-month rotations, but it plans in 2009 to send two units simultaneously for three months each, for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. On its latest rotation, the 12th BS flew some 240 missions, amassing 1,400 hours. The unit deployed 10 aircrews, which comprise a pilot and weapon systems officer/navigator. The aircraft’s weapons include a 27mm cannon and up to two 1,000-pound bombs, but it also provides a vital intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capability, according to Flight Lt. James Clayton with the 12th Bomber Squadron. (USAF report by SrA. Clinton Atkins)