Typhoon Fires First Weapons In Anger

The RAF Typhoon multirole jet has for the first time deployed its weapons on operations - destroying two of Colonel Gaddafi's tanks.

Flying a joint mission with Tornado GR4 aircraft over Libya on Tuesday evening, a Typhoon dropped two Paveway II bombs.

Air Vice-Marshal Phil Osborn said: "Typhoon and Tornado have been prosecuting Libyan targets attacking civilians within Libyan airspace.

"What we saw was the first use of Typhoon in the ground attack role along with Tornado aircraft also engaging tanks in the Misratah area."

Paveway II is a precision aerial bomb, capable of using GPS to locate its target or being guided in manually using laser targeting on the ground.

At a briefing held at the Ministry of Defence, AVM Osborn said the RAF was now providing a quarter of the aircraft used by Nato in ground attacks to support UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

Whilst only flying 15% of the total Nato sorties, RAF aircraft accounted for 25% of all hours flown.

Over a hundred tanks, air defence batteries and other ground targets have been hit by the RAF since the beginning of international involvement in the Libyan conflict, including eight tanks on Tuesday.

Nato has asked allies to increase the amount of aircraft available for ground assault, as Gaddafi's forces continue to assault rebel forces in both the west and east of the country.

The four Typhoon jets "declared available" to Nato have, until now, largely been used to patrol the Libyan no-fly zone.

Responding to reports that there were an insufficient number of Typhoon pilots trained in air to ground attack, AVM Osborn said that although Typhoon was due to be fully multirole capable by 2015 the UK is "deploying early capability to meet the needs" of the Nato mission.

"We would not deploy capability if we couldn't support it."

There are currently 12 Tornado GR4 and four Typhoon jets, plus contingency and support aircraft, as part of the Nato coalition.

[Source: By Niail Paterson, Sky News, 13Apr11]

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