The Royal Air Force launched one of its Tornado fast jets to capture a highly detailed aerial picture of the areas affected by the floods, after a request by Gold commanders in the Thames Valley.
The deployment of the Tornado GR4 from RAF Marham in Norfolk has produced detailed imagery that will aid the planning and co-ordination of multi-agency efforts to provide relief to local residents and communities.
The aircraft, operated by the RAF’s 31 Squadron, is equipped with the highly versatile RAPTOR – Reconnaissance Air Pod for Tornado – which enables it to gather sophisticated, high-resolution imagery. The imagery, now being processed and evaluated by analysts at RAF Marham, will be passed to civilian authorities for their use.
Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, said:
“With thousands of military personnel already playing their part in efforts to help flood-affected communities, the RAF is now delivering this additional and highly specialist support.
“This Tornado-borne surveillance capability is very much proven in a combat role in Afghanistan but its versatility is underlined by its use today, here at home, to support ongoing flood relief efforts. As the Prime Minister has made clear, whatever assets we have at our disposal that can make a difference, we will use them.”
The Tornado aircraft and RAPTOR has been used in many military operations and is currently in use over Afghanistan. It was selected for this task as it can rapidly scan and capture a huge area of interest in just one sortie - in this case areas in need of flood relief work.
Wing Commander Neil Tomlin, Acting Station Commander said:
“The Tornado GR4 is a multi-role aircraft with a highly effective reconnaissance capability. It is used to great effect on current operations in Afghanistan, but it’s capability is not confined to purely operational roles. The sortie launched today demonstrates the versatility of both the aircraft and its reconnaissance systems and of the men and women who support those operations. It is hoped that the imagery provided by our RAPTOR reconnaissance system will provide valuable assistance in supporting the flood relief efforts currently under way in the South of England.”
A Tornado from 31 Sqn RAF Marham, about to take off with a Raptor Pod loaded before a sortie to provide imagery of the Thames Valley area.
A 31 Sqn, RAF Marham Tornado being loaded with a Raptor Pod before a sortie to provide imagery of the Thames Valley area.
An Electro-Optical (EO) image from a Raptor reconnaisance pod fitted to a RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft of extensive floods in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2014