VC10 tanker

January Gulf War Campaign Diary

January 16th/17th

The first Allied air operations against Iraqi targets were mounted overnight including attacks on the capital, Baghdad.

Tornado GR1s from Muharraq, Tabuk and Dhahran attacked enemy airfields using JP233 anti-runway munitions and 1,000lb bombs. Additionally, Air-Launched Anti-Radiation Missiles (ALARMs) were used for Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) operations. Air-to-air refuelling (AAR) support was provided by VC10 K2/3 and Victor K2 aircraft.

January 17th

Attacks continued throughout the day with Tornado GR1 and Jaguar aircraft involved. Tornado F3s mounted continuous Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) close to international borders with VC10 and Victor aircraft again providing AAR. Nimrods from Seeb also carried out a number of maritime operations in the Persian Gulf. All of the aircraft returned safely with the exception of one Tornado GR1 from Muharraq which is believed to have suffered and in-flight engine fire and crashed. To read the official report of this incident, click here.

January 17th/18th

RAF aircraft continued to participate in offensive and defensive operations as part of the allied air effort. A total of 60 attack sorties have so far been mounted by Tornado and Jaguar aircraft using JP233, 1,000lb bombs and ALARM missiles. Also, 2 Tornado GR1 have failed to return from their missions. Tornado F3s have mounted 37 CAPs but no enemy aircraft have been engaged.

January 18th

More operational sorties by RAF aircraft have been flown during the day. Seventy-eight attack sorties have been mounted since hostilities began. One Tornado GR1 suffered a massive birdstrike but recovered to base. A total of 76 CAPs by Tornado F3s have also been flown. No enemy aircraft have been engaged, but 2 groups of aircraft attacking a formation of USAF A-10s were pursued by a single F3 under Airborne Warning and Control System (AWAC) control. The day's missions also saw the first operations by Tornado GR1A reconnaissance aircraft. Jaguar operations centred on vehicles, barracks and a storage complex.

January 18th/19th

Additional RAF attack sorties have brought the total number of offensive missions to 88. Overnight, airfields were attacked by Tornado GR1s with JP233 and 1,000lb bombs whilst Tornado GR1A reconnaissance flights have located one mobile SCUD launch site. Total CAPs by Tornado F3s stands at 78.

January 19th

Further Tornado and Jaguar attack sorties flown have brought the number flown to date to 108. During the day, Jaguars attacked Surface-to-Air (SAM) missile sites and artillery targets. Some aircraft suffered fragmentation damage, but returned safely. Replacement Tornados for the two lost on operations and the one aircraft which suffered the birdstrike arrived in-theatre today. A total of 96 CAPs have now been flown by Tornado F3s. Anti-aircraft fire was reported during these patrols, but no damage to aircraft is reported.

January 19th/20th

A series of Tornado GR1 attacks were mounted against an enemy airfield. During the course of the attacks, one aircraft was lost and the crew reported as missing. Elsewhere, 19 Tornado GR1 sorties were flown against a variety of targets without loss. Two early morning attacks involving Jaguars were also flown.

Air defence Tornado F3s have reached a century of patrols - exactly 100 being flown since hostilities commenced. AAR sorties by VC10K and Victors were also flown in support of offensive and defensive operations and the first Tristar AAR has been carried out, refuelling four Tornado F3s from Dhahran. Nimrods have also flown 2 sorties in direct support of US naval forces.

January 20th

A second wave of attacks mounted during the night of 19/20 January saw Tornados successfully attack their targets. At one location, a probable SA-7 SAM firing was observed. The early morning sorties flown by Muharraq -based Jaguars were less successful as bad weather over the target area restricted the attack. All aircraft involved, including the Victor tankers diverted to Dhahran. As a result, the planned follow-on missions were cancelled.

An advance party supporting Puma helicopters have relocated from their base at Ras Al Ghar to a new forward operating base (FOB). A further Tristar AAR mission was flown this time in support of US Navy F-14 Tomcats.

January 20th/21st

In the early part of the night 20/21 January, 8 Tornado GR1s from Muharraq armed with 1,000lb bombs and supported by USAF EF-111s and US Navy F-14s, successfully completed a medium altitude attack. Tornados from Tabuk also attacked enemy targets, but one aircraft crashed on take-off but the crew ejected successfully. Additional sorties planned for the night were cancelled due to bad weather throughout the region. Two more Tornado GR1A sorties were flown and two targets were located. No Jaguar missions were flown due to the poor weather. Victors have now completed 25 missions with a further 37 AAR sorties have been flown by the VC10Ks.

January 21st

Continuing poor weather forced the cancellation of all sorties planned for the Jaguars today. A limited number of attacks were carried out by Tornado GR1s with 1,000lb bombs and a further 2 Tornado GR1s arrived in-theatre from RAF Germany during the day. One Tristar AAR mission was completed bringing the total to 4.

Total sorties flown to date is as follows:

Tornado GR1 - 143
Tornado GR1A - 5
Jaguar GR1A - 38
Tornado F3 - 136

January 21st/22nd

Tornado GR1s from Muharraq and Dhahran armed with 1,000lb bombs and escorted by USAF F-4G 'Wild Weasel' SEAD aircraft and F-15 Eagle fighters successfully attacked their target from 20,000 feet. Although heavy anti-aircraft fire was encountered, it failed to reach the attacking aircraft. Some unguided SAMs were apparently fired. During the night Tornados also attacked a SCUD and ammunition storage site, encountering heavy anti-aircraft fire from some distance out. A further attack was also carried out by Tornados on a radar site, and one aircraft failed to return. Some further joint US/UK missions were cancelled due to a lack of AAR aircraft. Tornado F3s also completed 13 defensive CAPs.

January 22nd

Further information on the Tornado lost during the night. The formation leader was reported missing following the attack. One of the formation reported seeing an explosion in a position where the leader would have been following his loft bombing manoeuvre after which no further contact could be made.

Poor weather again affected Jaguar operations but a number of aircraft eventually attacked an enemy ammunition store.

January 22nd/23rd

During the night, Tornados from Tabuk successfully attacked an ammunition storage area with 1,000lb bombs. SEAD support was provided by ALARM-equipped Tornados, with a number of successful firings. Tornados from Muharraq and Dhahran also attacked other targets with 1,000lb bombs. RAF VC10s, Victors and Tristars continue to support the allied operation and have completed a total of 80 sorties to date.

January 23rd

Jaguars successfully attacked a heavily defended artillery and anti-aircraft site during the day without loss. Later, Jaguars operating with USAF F-16s carried out a series of attacks against another artillery site close to the one hit earlier in the day.

January 23rd/24th

Tornado GR1s continued to fly medium-level 1,000lb bomb sorties against two airfields and a missile complex. Two ALARM missions were also flown. One aircraft is reported missing. Jaguars flew a large number of sorties against artillery and anti-aircraft sites using 1,000lb bombs with all aircraft involved successfully hitting their targets. Tornado F3s completed approximately 18 sorties per 24 hour period, along with VC10, Victor and Hercules sorties.

January 24th

Jaguars, each armed with 4 x 1,000lb bombs, again carried out interdiction missions against artillery and surface-to-surface missile (SSM) targets. All aircraft returned to base safely. Two aircraft on standing patrol were wrongly tasked to attack enemy aircraft; although Sidewinder missiles were carried for self-defence, the crews were very relieved when this order was corrected.

Since the operation began in August 1990, some very impressive figures have been flown by the RAF's transport fleet; over 38,800 tonnes of equipment have been moved to the region by air with Hercules' having flown over 30,000 hours, VC10 3,000 hours and Tristar over 4,000.

Chinook helicopters also completed a move to a new FOB during the day.

January 24th/25th

Jaguars, each armed with 4 x 1000lb bombs, have again carried out interdiction missions against artillery and surface-to-surface missile (SSM) targets. All aircraft successfully hit their targets. Four aircraft carried out TASMO armed with CRV-7 rockets, but no enemy targets appeared. However, 2 aircraft were wrongly tasked against Mirage F1s.!

Tornado GR1s attacked a number of targets in three waves and report a good success rate. In addition, a single Tornado GR1A reconnaissance mission to locate SSMs was also flown.

Future deployments to theatre are:

Six Buccaneers in the PAVESPIKE role - scheduled to deploy to Muharraq between 26-29 January.
Four Tornado GR1s with TIALD are scheduled to deploy 28 January.
No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment are currently transferring from their base at Laarbruch to the Gulf to provide Support Helicopter site defence at their FOBs.

Also, additional air transport assets have been made available from Belgium (1 x Hercules) as well as the 2 Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules' currently operating alongside RAF aircraft in-theatre.

January 25th

Adverse weather conditions have again affected the success of operational missions. Of the Jaguar sorties launched against an artillery site, only one aircraft was able to deliver its weapons with the remainder having to abort. Other Jaguars have flown missions on SUCAP and 1 pair was tasked against a barge with HE strafe and the target was damaged. All aircraft returned safely.

There were no taskings for Tornado GR1/1As during the day. Nimrod MR2s mounted a number of sorties in support of the Midway Group in the Northern Persian Gulf, one mission successfully locating an enemy vessel which was later attacked by US Navy aircraft.

Excluding Cyprus, the number of RAF personnel currently deployed to the Arabian Peninsular is 5,441, of which some 164 are females.

January 25th/26th

Tornado GR1 aircraft have flown against several targets and Tornado GR1A aircraft have flown successful reconnaissance missions. Tornado F3 tasking has been reduced in light of the decreased threat. Total air defence sorties mounted by the F3s currently stands at 206.

The Tornado GR1 missions were flown at medium level early in the morning of the 26th January. Dhahran-based aircraft flew against an Army HQ and ammunition storage facility, Muharraq aircraft targeted a second ammunition store and Tabuk operations were against a radar site. The Tabuk missions were supported by 2 ALARM aircraft providing SEAD.

Initial reports from the Tornado GR1A reconnaissance flights show little or no military activity. These long-range missions were launched at short notice following SCUD attacks.

The first Jaguar missions of the day (interdiction and SUCAP) are currently in progress. No reports as yet.

All but a small number of Hercules' remain allotted to Op Granby, with 6 aircraft based full time at Riyadh for in-theatre operations. Additional airlift capacity is available through a fleet of chartered civilian aircraft - 9 x Boeing 707/ Douglas DC-8, 1 x Guppy, 1 x Belfast and 2 x Boeing 747.

Total AAR sorties to date: Tristar 10, VC10 63 and Victor 45.

January 26th

During the day, RAF Jaguars successfully flew missions against a Silkworm site, scoring direct hits, and artillery positions, successfully identifying and attacking multiple targets. Aircraft on SUCAP duties were unable to positively identify naval targets due to smoke and oil on the water and therefore, did not release their weapons. All aircraft returned safely.

Nimrods flew more missions in direct support of the Midway Group in the Northern Gulf.

The first PAVESPIKE-equipped Buccaneers have arrived at Muharraq, with additional aircraft due tomorrow. Final checks of the TIALD-fitted Tornado GR1s are underway in the UK.

Support Helicopters, having completed their move to forward bases, continue their training with ground forces. Total sorties flown so far are: Chinook 135 and Puma 755.

January 26th/27th

Planned Tornado GR1 reconnaissance sorties to assess target damage were aborted due to ECM problems and turbulence during tanking forced the return of the majority of Tornados to Muharraq. Those that were able to refuel successfully attacked their target (a radar site). Tabuk aircraft attacked suspected SCUD sites with secondary explosions noted post-attack and Dhahran aircraft flew medium-level missions against an ammunition store with great success.

A Hercules is currently unserviceable at Jubayl after being struck on the wing tip by a taxying helicopter. Battle-damaged Tornado at Dhahran, previously planned to return to the UK, is repairable in theatre. Estimated time for the task is 4-5 days.

January 27th

Two waves of Jaguar missions had varying degrees of success. The first was targeted against ammunition stores but was aborted due to adverse weather. The second was also unable to attack its primary target due to bad weather but scored direst hits on alternative targets of an ammunition store and barracks.

Four Buccaneers are now available in theatre for laser-designation.

Total operational sorties flown since hostilities started are: Tornado GR1 316, Tornado GR1A 14 and Jaguar GR1A 118.

In addition to two transit sorties (aircraft rotation), Nimrods again mounted sorties in support of naval operations in the Gulf.

January 27th/28th

Operations during the night brought the total number of missions flown by Tornado GR1 and Jaguar aircraft to over 100. These missions have comprised over 450 individual aircraft sorties.

Overnight, Tornado GR1s mounted attacks against a variety of targets including underground storage facilities. The results are not yet known although two ALARM launches were carried out successfully.

January 28th

Jaguar aircraft have continued to mount sorties against targets in Kuwait. Early this morning they attacked a SSM site and barracks and both targets were confirmed hit. Additionally, an artillery position adjacent to the SSM site was also hit.

A report from Riyadh states that a satellite recorded a reading of 14,000Kw at one of the targets attacked by Tornado GR1s during last night. A further large explosion was noted at another target after being attacked.

Continuing CAPs flown by RAF Tornado F3s has brought the total flown to up to 241.

The first training flights for Buccaneer crews were undertaken today in preparation for their first operational sorties.

January 28th/29th

Attacks by Tornado GR1s again concentrated on storage facilities, fires from one target being visible from over 120 miles away. Aircraft from Muharraq attacked a petrol store and factory from low-level with 1,000lb bombs while Tornados from Dhahran targeted a second petrol product store from medium level. A total of 175,000lbs of HE was dropped.

A single Tornado GR1A sortie was successfully completed, as were a number of SUCAP missions against an oil platform by Jaguars with CBU-87. More Buccaneer training sorties were flown and Nimrods continue to support naval operations.

Repairs to the Tornado t Dhahran and Hercules at Jubayl continue and both are estimated to be serviceable by 31 January.

Total Sorties Flown in Support of Desert Storm/Op Granby:

Tornado F3 - 249
Tornado GR1 - 376
Tornado GR1A - 21
Jaguar - 134
Buccaneer - Nil
Nimrod - 24
Victor - 71
VC10 - 81
Tristar - 18
Hercules - 272
Puma - 69
Chinook - 75

January 29th

This morning, Jaguars armed with CBU-87 attacked a Silkworm site. Damage was observed to vehicles and radar and a direct hit was observed on a second target. On recovery the aircraft sighted a number of fast patrol boats heading towards the Northern Gulf. Jaguars on SUCAP were vectored towards these targets, and they attacked with CRV-7 and 30mm cannon. Four boats were reported as stationary following the attack, whilst others made their escape.

A Tornado GR1A sortie last night located infantry positions, artillery and associated logistics units along with a probable air defence battery.

A further six Buccaneer training mission were flown during the day.

January 29th/30th

During the early evening of 29 January, Tornado GR1 aircraft from Tabuk dropped a large number of 1,000lb bombs on their primary target along with 4 ALARM anti-radar missiles. Later, GR1s from Muharraq, each with 8 x 1,000lb bombs attacked an oil storage and refinery complex and Tornados from Dhahran were also in action.

A Nimrod was launched to assist in a search for a coalition Jaguar last heard of in the early morning east of Thumrait. Four Hercules and four helicopters were also involved, the Nimrod assuming on-scene command of the helicopters. The aircraft remains unlocated.

January 30th

No further Tornado missions were flown during the day. Jaguar aircraft continued with daylight interdiction and SUCAP sorties. This morning, an attack on an artillery position was hampered by bad weather, but aircraft were able to release their weapons at the predicted point. A later sortie had to be cancelled due to the target being obscured by smoke. The first SUCAP sortie attacked an enemy vessel, leaving it blazing from end to end. Liferafts were seen and the ship was assumed abandoned.

Buccaneers today flew a series of co-ordinated LGB training sorties with Tornado GR1s.

January 30th/31st

Offensive operations recommenced at 1700 hours on 30 January with two sections of Tornado GR1s from Tabuk against a probable SSM test site. The attack inflicted considerable damage, judging by the secondary explosions and ensuing pyrotechnic display reported by the aircrew. Later, GR1s from Muharraq attacked a commando camp. One aircraft had to jettison its load over the target due to a hang-up. Dhahran Tornados were successful in attacking a SAM support facility and GR1As carried out line searches of enemy positions and produced good imagery of vehicles, trench positions and a possible helicopter. Three of the reconnaissance missions were 'hot-tasked' and both the reaction and product were much appreciated by the US. All aircraft returned safely to their bases.

January 31st

Jaguar aircraft have continued with daylight raids today. On the first raid, aircraft successfully attacked a logistics site with damage reported to one side of the store. A second raid on a Silkworm site reported 4 direct hits in the target area. In another attack, two aircraft on SUCAP were called to attack enemy vehicles on the main highway west of Kuwait City and destroyed a ZSU 23-4 and a SSV.

No daylight Tornado attack missions were flown, but more co-ordinated LGB training sorties were flown with Buccaneers.

January 31st/February 1st

Attack operations continued during the night of 31 January with medium and low level missions against a variety of targets. The first attack by Tornado GR1s from Tabuk using low-level loft tactics, dropped a large number of 1,000lb bombs on an early warning facility. This was followed up by a second wave of aircraft using the same tactics; aikrburst and impact fuzing was used. The low-level approach was chosen because the high moon and lack of bombing offsets would have given little chance of success at medium level.

A second target was attacked by Tornados from Muharraq withy 1,000lb bombs dropped from medium level. One aircraft suffered a hang-up, and returned with part of its load still attached. The attack caused many small fires in the target area and explosions to the north.

Tornado GR1s from Dhahran in 2 waves and carrying 1,000lb bombs attacked a petroleum storage facility. A second aircraft suffered a hang-up, but the remaining bombs resulted in a massive explosion and fires visible from 80nm.

Tornado GR1As located possible SAM batteries, communications equipment and military vehicles at one site whilst at another, large groups of vehicles, artillery and radars were located near the western Kuwaiti border.

A Jaguar mission against an ammunition store and logistics park was successful with good results seen. A pair of aircraft on SUCAP duties was diverted and successfully attacked a ZSU 23-4 and a SSV. A further mission successfully attacked a Silkworm site.

Buccaneers continued their training with Tornados.

Nimrods once again provided direct support to the Midway Group, conducting radar surveillance to locate two unidentified contacts for investigation by SUCAP.

February Campaign Diary

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