Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZA459/F ‘MacRoberts Reply’, RAF No.15 Squadron, 90th Anniversary Scheme, Operation Ellamy, 2011
As one of the world’s most capable low-level strike aircraft, able to operate at day or night and in all weather conditions, it is sobering to think that the RAF began operating the Panavia Tornado over 35 years ago and it is now very much in the twilight of its service career. Seeing plenty of action during this time, the Tornado has been at the forefront of the RAFs offensive capability, with successive upgrades and improvements allowing the aircraft to deliver the latest precision munitions effectively and gather vital battlefield reconnaissance information.
During Operation Ellamy in 2011, Tornados operating from RAF Marham and a forward operating base at Gioia del Colle in Southern Italy were involved in combat missions over Libya, imposing a no-fly zone during the Libyan Civil war and protecting the civilian population from possible attack. Equipped with Sky Shadow ECM pods to help the aircraft evade enemy interception over the combat zone and the devastatingly effective Storm Shadow air launched cruise missile, RAF Tornados destroyed numerous armoured vehicles and artillery pieces, ensuring the success of the operation.