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Mar-22-2011 03:36printcommentsVideo

RAF Tornado Pilots Abort Targets to Avoid Civilians

To kill or not to kill; for once it was not a question.

RAF Tornado
File photo of the RAF Tornado.

(SALEM, Ore.) - An article in The Telegraph by Con Coughlin today details the kind of moral military story we don't hear too often in our Wikileaks-based world.

Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado jet fighter/bombers returned to their base after a raid on Libyan military forces loyal to Gaddafi, with their weapons still slung underneath the wings of their airplanes.

The crews chose to drive their weapons back to their base so they could try again another day (or night) without risking collateral damage.

Could it be that western forces have learned something along the way? Everyone should hope so.

A the newspaper article reveals, the trip for these RAF pilots is a long one; 3k miles and that is both an eight hour flight, and an event that requires a number of mid-air refuelings. This they do at 35,000 feet in pitch darkness[1].

Apparently they were very close to the target when the aviators learned that civilians might be killed or injured if they carried out the attack. The order was given to the pilots to abort the mission and head back home. It was also reported that SAS teams were on the ground helping select targets.

Con Coughlin wrote, "The humanity displayed by the fighter pilots from 9 Squadron was in stark contrast to the brutality regularly meted out by Gaddafi's forces to antigovernment rebels. Human rights groups have received numerous reports of captured rebels being subjected to summary executions and torture."

The article in The Telegraph is clearly written in support of the western airstrikes on Libya, of course we expect nothing else from this right leaning publication. But they are right in this case, for lauding the decision to not risk bombing civilian targets. It would be a great thing for all western air forces to make a habit of.

The RAF Tornado

The Panavia Tornado is an aircraft that was designed and developed jointly by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy.

This twin-engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft is made in three primary versions; the Tornado IDS (Interdictor/Strike) fighter-bomber, the suppression of enemy air defences Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat/ Reconnaissance) and the Tornado ADV (Air Defence Variant) interceptor.

The Rolls Royce powered Tornado first entered service with the RAF in 1979. The models that aborted the attack in Libya, the GR4, first entered service in 1997, and became a front-line plane the following year.

The Tornado GR4 was used extensively during the invasion of Iraq eight years ago. On 23 March 2003, a Tornado GR4 was lost to friendly fire when it was engaged and shot down by a U.S. Patriot missile battery. Both RAF crew members were killed.

The decision to utilize the aircraft in Libya came on 18 March 2011. British Prime Minister David Cameron aid the UK was deploying RAF Tornados and Typhoons to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya.

British Tornados flying the 3000-mile attack missions on Libyan military sites are carrying Storm Shadow missiles. Defence Secretary Liam Fox says these are, "the longest range bombing mission conducted by the RAF since the Falklands conflict".[2]

Honour

Again, in a time of great uncertainty, while still directly engaged in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and indirectly supporting Israel's occupational war on Palestine, the coalition of western governments must learn from this event, and continue to lessen tactics that risk the lives of innocent human beings who happen to have the unfortunate reality of living in a war zone.

It is one of the more heroic wartime acts I have ever heard of.

Here is footage of the multi-role RAF Tornado:

[1] Libya: abortive raid lets Allies keep moral high ground By Con Coughlin The Telegraph

[2] Panavia Tornado - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Special thanks to Dexter Phoenix who also contributed to this article.


_________________________________________________________

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 76 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Dexter March 23, 2013 5:04 pm (Pacific time)

You are more than welcome Tim . Your site rocks . Salem news, keep up the good work.


Dexter March 23, 2013 2:31 pm (Pacific time)

Ah brings back memories reading this article . It was fun getting info of this story with Tim on this one. The RAF do not get enough exposure these days . The only Air force in the world that the Americans actually respect and train with (for good reasons) . Shame the Typhoon , after all that investment in making the plane ...can not compete on a multi-roll combat missions like good old (built like tanks with steroids ) Tornados .

Awesome Dexter! 

Tim


Facts not Fairies March 23, 2011 12:01 am (Pacific time)

War propaganda. Fake:

Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported Monday that the British military had to call off an attack on the Libyan ruler's compound because journalists had been taken there on a trip to view earlier bomb damage.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110322/ap_en_tv/us_tv_libya_tv_shields


Anonymous March 22, 2011 11:58 pm (Pacific time)

Fake, war propaganda Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported Monday that the British military had to call off an attack on the Libyan ruler's compound because journalists had been taken there on a trip to view earlier bomb damage. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110322/ap_en_tv/us_tv_libya_tv_shields


Anonymous March 22, 2011 5:25 pm (Pacific time)

By the way..did Con (his name suits him) happen to mention that obama is the dang PRESIDENT OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL??? Which is in violation of the U.S. Constitution?? I didnt think so. THINK man, use some research and critical thinking!! You supported obama with no background, covered up background, little to NO voting record, NOTHING but what the mainstream told ya. Tell me I am wrong, I am waiting. Because, since I am not left/right, I just want the right person, when I researched obama with hopes, I found NOTHING, and I AINT PUTTING GUY IN THE WHITE HOSUE WHEN I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HIM!! Dear LORD!!!!


Anonymous March 22, 2011 4:59 pm (Pacific time)

It is obvious that this author has done zero research on the telegraph, who owns it and the past 20 year history. It is also obvious that this author did not research Con Coughlin. Listen, we are in dark times, and we need people who actually do their research, not pick an article out of a newspaper they know nothing about and publish their own comments. I am sorry, but there is ZERO evidence this really happened. And based on coughlin and the telegraph and their past history, ...never mind... sorry, but I dont just read articles, I research them. I have a family to protect. Dear lord Tim


Colli March 22, 2011 7:00 am (Pacific time)

A positive and uplifting article Tim. You are right . . . we do not often read such articles in the mass media. The question is "WHY". Is it because this type of consideration for colateral damage occurs so rarely or because it is so rarely reported by most media outlets? Regardless of the answer to that question, reading your article warms the heart and I thank you for publishing it.

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