Homeward over the Mediterranean

RAF Aircraft in Operation Granby

Royal Air Force Aircraft

This page details the various aircraft used by the RAF during Operation Granby. Also listed are the Squadrons of the RAF Regiment which were deployed to the region.

Panavia Tornado GR1/A1

Bases:

Tabuk, Dhahran and Muharraq (Bahrain)

Deployment:

The first Tornado GR1s deployed to Muharraq during August 1990 followed by Tabuk in October and finally Dhahran early in January 1991. Each squadron had approximately 15 aircraft and 24 crews drawn from several squadrons. Lead squadron at Muharraq was No XV Squadron (elements of Nos IX, 17, 27, 31 and 617 Squadrons), Dhahran was No 31 Squadron (Nos IX, 14 and 31 Squadrons) with No 16 Squadron (Nos II(AC), IX, 14 and 20 Squadrons) at Tabuk. Shortly before hostilities commenced, 6 Tornado GR1As, crewed by Nos II(AC) and 13 Squadrons, arrived at Dhahran. Early February saw the final Tornados deploy when a Flight of aircraft hastily modified for Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) operations arrived at Tabuk.

Role:

The early stages of Operation Granby saw the GR1s involved in low-level anti-airfield and Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) operations before moving to medium-level missions using 1,000lb bombs and later Paveway II laser-guided bombs (LGBs) against other strategic targets. The GR1As carried out low-level tactical reconnaissance sorties, one of their main objectives was locating mobile SCUD missile sites.

Weapons:

For the anti-airfield missions, the GR1s used the JP233 anti-runway munitions, two being carried by each aircraft on the centreline pylons. Up to 8 1,000lb 'dumb' bombs were carried following the switch to higher level attacks. Air-Launched Anti-Radiation Missiles (ALARMs) were used in the SEAD role whilst laser-designation was provided by TIALD-equipped Tornados or Buccaneers carrying the Pave Spike laser pod. Up to three Paveway II LGBs can be carried by a single Tornado GR1. Aircraft also carried a pair of AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles for self-defence as well as electronic-countermeasures (ECM) pods.

Panavia F3 Tornado

Bases:

Dhahran

Deployment:

Twelve Tornado F3s of Nos 5 and 29 Squadrons which were on detachment to Akrotiri, Cypus, were amongst the first RAF aircraft to arrive in Saudi Arabia in August 1990 but by the end of the month, 18 Leeming-based aircraft had replaced them led by No XI Squadron. These in turn were replaced by members of Nos 43 and 29 Squadrons by the end of the year.

Role:

RAF Tornado F3s shared the responsibility of air defence with Tornado F3s of the Royal Suadi Air Force (RSAF) and F-15 Eagles of the RSAF and United States Air Force (USAF). Combat air patrols (CAPS) lasting up to 4 hours were mounted over northern Saudi Arabia and maintained for 24 hours a day throughout the operation. Despite the long hours of patrols, RAF F3s saw no action.

Weapons:

Aircraft carried four Skyflash medium-range air-to-air missiles and four AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range missiles.

SEPECAT Jaguar GR1A

Bases:

Muharraq

Deployment:

Jaguars from all three squadrons at Coltishall (Nos 6, 41 and 54) deployed initially to Thumrait in Oman in August 1990 before transferring to Muharraq in October.

Role:

The main area of operations for Jaguars was Kuwait where tactical targets such as artillery and missile sites, coastal defences and military installations were attacked. Some reconnaissance missions were also flown along with a number of operations in support of naval forces.

Weapons:

A wide variety of payloads were carried including CRV-7 rocket pods, cluster bombs and 1,000lb bombs. Two Sidewinder missiles were carried on hastily added overwing pylons along with ECM pods.

Blackburn Buccaneer S2B

Bases:

Muharraq

Deployment:

Mobilized for combat inside two weeks, the Buccaneers were the last RAF Aircraft to deploy to the region, Nos 12 and 208 Squadrons along with personnel from No 237 OCU at Lossiemouth moving to Muharraq in January 1991.

Role:

Initially tasked with providing laser designation for Tornado GR1s, the Buccaneers began their own bombing missions towards the end of the conflict.

Weapons:

Laser designation was carried out with a wing-mounted Pave Spike pod and for attack missions a single Paveway II was carried. For self-defence, a single Sidewinder and ECM pod was carried.

Lockheed Hercules C1/3

Bases:

Riyadh.


Deployment:

As in just about any conflict which has British involvement, the Hercules was the very first RAF aircraft involved in Operation Granby being used to move ground troops and equipment to the Gulf. Eventually, from November onwards, a number of aircraft remained in the region as tactical transports, supplying both fixed and remote locations.

Role:

Tactical transport.

Weapons:

Nil.

Lockhead Tristar

Bases:

Riyadh

Deployment:

Although all of No 216 Squadron's aircraft were involved in transporting personnel and equipment, two K1s were based in the Gulf to provide air-to-air refuelling (AAR) support for aircraft of many of the coalition forces.

Role:

AIr-to-air refuelling.

Weapons:

Nil.

BAC VC10 K2/3

Bases:

Riyadh, Muharraq and Seeb (Oman).

Deployment:

During the course of Operation Granby, all of the VC10s of No 101 Squadron based at Brize Norton, were deployed to the Gulf to provide AAR support.

Role:

Air-to-air refuelling. Each aircraft could refuel a flight of 4 Tornados or Jaguars.

Weapons:

Nil.

Handley Page Victor K2

Bases:

Muharraq.

Deployment:

The eight aircraft of No 55 Squadron deployed to Bahrain during December 1990 and January 1991 to provide AAR for RAF and other coalition aircraft.

Role:

Air-to-air refuelling.

Weapons:

Nil.

BAe Nimrod MR2

Bases:

Seeb.


Deployment:

Between three and four aircraft were detached to Oman from their base at Kinloss to support coalition naval operations in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.

Role:

Maritime patrol.

Weapons:

Nil.

Westland Puma HC1

Bases:

Ras Al Ghar and various forward operating bases (FOBs).


Deployment:

Nineteen aircraft and personnel of Nos 33 Squadron, Benson, and 230 Squadron, Gutersloh, were moved by air to Ras Al Ghar during November 1990.

Role:

Pumas were very closely involved with the various ground forces and supported them before and during the short ground war from a number of improvised locations.

Weapons:

Nil.

Boeing Chinook HC1


Bases:

Ras Al Ghar and various forward operating bases (FOBs).


Deployment:

The first three Chinooks were moved by air from RAF Mildenhall in early November 1990 to Ras Al Ghar with the remainder following by sea and air during January 1991. As the ground war approached, the aircraft moved to a number of forward locations.

Role:

Like the Pumas, Chinooks supported the ground forces in northern Saudi Arabia transporting both men and equipment around the area.

Weapons:

Nil.

RAF Regiment


Bases:

Muharraq, Tabuk and Dhahran.

Deployment:

Muharraq: 58 Light Armoured Sqn, 66 Sqn (Rapier), 4 Wing HQ, 33 Wing HQ
Tabuk: 51 Light Armoured Sqn, 26 Sqn (Rapier), 6 Wing HQ
Dhahran: 51 Light Armoured Sqn, 20 Sqn (Rapier) 4 Wing HQ

Role:

Airfield defence.

Weapons:

Rapier surface-to-air missile systems.
A variety of light armoured vehicles and infantry weapons for surface defence.

RAF Reserve Forces

Bases:

Reserve Units were based at a number of main bases and various forward operating bases (FOBs).

Deployment:

4626 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Royal Aux Air Force, (RAF Hullavington)
4624 Movements Squadron, Royal Aux Air Force. (RAF Brize Norton)
No 7006 Flt RAFVR (Intelligence) RAF High Wycombe
No 7644 Flt RAFVR (Public Relations) RAF Uxbridge
1 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (RAF Lyneham)
2 Parachute Squadron (RAF Hullavington)
Mobile Met Unit
RAF War Hospital (with units from the RAF Hospitals at Halton and Ely)

Other British Forces

Aircraft of the United States

Other Coalition Forces

Text size:
medium|
larger|
largest