Tornados

Build-up of Forces

Picture: Tornado GR1s take off on another sortie.

Operation Granby - Build-up of Forces

HMG announced its intention to send forces to the Gulf on 9 August 1990.

Within 48 hours of the order being given, a squadron of 12 Tornado F3 fighters was operational at Dhahran Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

Two hours after the squadron's arrival, 2 Tornados were airborne on an operational mission.

Within a further 48 hours, a squadron of 12 ground attack Jaguars (with VC10K tanker support) was operational at Thumrait Air Base in the south of Oman, and 16 August 3 Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft were in place further north at Seeb.

Immediately, the Air Transport Force (ATF), using Tristars, VC10s and Hercules, commenced operations between the UK and the Gulf, augmented later by civilian charter and aircraft from other coalition nations.

Thus, within days of the order being given, the RAF deployed a powerful force with a spectrum of combat capabilities - together with supporting equipment and weapons - over 3,000 miles from its main bases.

The arrival of this force so quickly, together with other multinational air forces, provided a powerful deterrent against an Iraqi advance into Saudi Arabia.

These deterrent forces were later consolidated by a squadron of Tornado GR1 attack aircraft at Muharraq and additional Tornado F3 fighters at Dhahran as well as Rapiers and a Light Armoured Squadron from the RAF Regiment, to provide airfield defence.

As hostilities became more likely, the RAF force was further strengthened by the deployment of additional Tornado GR1s to Tabuk, some equipped with ALARM for defence suppression of enemy radars. The Jaguars moved forward from Thumrait to Muharraq, and Puma and Chinook helicopters were deployed initially to Al Jubail for logistic support and casualty evacuation. Later, 6 Tornado GR1A aircraft were also deployed to Dhahran in the tactical reconnaissance role.

Later in the campaign, Buccaneer laser designators and Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) equipped Tornado GR1s were also deployed for target designation.

At the peak of hostilities some 5,500 RAF personnel including reservists were deployed to the Gulf in support of RAF operations.

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