The Royal Air Force ( RAF) will extend the service of no. 12 (Bomber) Squadron operating Tornado GR4, which currently takes part in the air campaign against ISIL in Iraq. The squadron’s Tornados will be maintained in service for an additional year, until March 2017 the British Defence Secretary has announced during a recent visit in Baghdad.
The squadron will continue to offer the essential precision firepower, intelligence and surveillance needed for the counter-ISIL international coalition to provide vital support to Iraqi ground forces, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said.
The unit maintains eight Tornados flying daily missions over Iraq.
“Our aircraft have flown thousands of missions and RAF Tornados have carried out hundreds of strikes, helping Iraqi forces push back ISIL from the Kurdish region and out of key towns such as Tikrit and Bayji.” Fallon said .
The Tornado GR4 provides coalition forces he capability to operate day or night and in poor weather, employing advanced reconnaissance, targeting and precision strike weapons.
“The decision to retain the third Tornado GR4 squadron for a further year is welcome news. It is clear that the requirement for fast jet precision strike and intelligence gathering shows no sign of diminishing,” the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford said, “Extending the life of Number 12 (Bomber) Squadron will allow the Royal Air Force to continue to provide a unique and hugely valuable contribution to the coalition fight against Da’esh.” Pulford added.
No. 12 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was formed in February 1915 and moved at the same year to France, to join operations over the Western Front. On its 99th anniversary the unit was disbanded at its operating base at RAF Lossiemouth, only to reform a year later at RAF Marham, operating the Tornados of No.2 Squadron. The began supporting the coalition campaign against ISIL in January 2015, operating from Akrotiri in Cyprus.