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Royal Air Force Aircraft & Weapons

Royal Air Force Aircraft & Weapons

   Fundamental to everything the RAF tries to achieve is the equipment we have at our disposal, much of which relies on world-beating, cutting-edge high technology that has been tested in conflict. It is this equipment that when operated, maintained and supported by highly professional personnel, makes the RAF a truly potent deliverer of Air Power. In defence of our airspace at home and abroad, the Tornado F3 maintains our Quick Reaction Alert with the ASRAAM missile, which is the most up-to-date and effective air-to-air missile deployed anywhere in the world. The next generation air-to-air missile, the Meteor, a fire-and-forget missile, will give the RAF a further significant advance in missile capability when it enters service early in the next decade. The combination of Typhoon and Meteor will defeat all current and projected air-to-air threats for the foreseeable future.

   The Tornado F3 is the RAF’s Counter-Air Operations Fighter. Originally a development from the Tornado GR1, the F3 was introduced as a long-range interceptor aircraft for defence of UK airspace. Changes in operational tasks, along with the experience gained during the Gulf War in 1991, led to a major Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP) of the aircraft. The F3 is capable of carrying four Skyflash semi-active missiles and four AIM-9L Sidewinder passive Infrared air-to-air missiles. After CSP modification, the aircraft is further capable of replacing Skyflash with Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and Sidewinder with Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM). The aircraft can also carry the Alarm missile and has a 27mm Mauser cannon on the starboard side of the airframe with a 180 round capacity. Either 1500 litre or 2250 litre external fuel tanks can be carried which, along with air refuelling, increases the aircraft’s endurance.

   The Tornado GR4 is a variable-geometry, two- seat, day or night, all-weather attack aircraft, capable of delivering a wide variety of weapons. Powered by two Rolls Royce RB 199 Mk 103 turbofan engines, the GR4 is capable of low-level supersonic flight and can sustain a high subsonic cruise speed. The aircraft can fly automatically at low level using terrain-following radar when poor weather prevents visual flight. The aircraft is also equipped with forward-looking Infrared and is night-vision goggle compatible, making it a capable platform for passive night operations. For navigation purposes, the Tornado is equipped with an integrated global positioning inertial navigation system that can also be updated with visual or radar inputs. The GR4 is also equipped with a Laser Ranger and Marked Target Seeker system that can be used for ground designation or can provide accurate range information on ground targets.

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