The idea of the Royal Air Force now joining, officially, the bombardment against ISIS is thought-provoking as we discussed the aircraft type they are using in the recently published GMJ Book 15, Code Name Blue Tang. Let me quote where this aircraft comes from:
“History will show you that the Panavia Tornado was jointly developed by Italy, the UK, and West Germany. It was first flown way back in 1974. It has different variants, from the IDS (interdictor / strike) fighter-bomber to suppress the enemy air defences Tornado ECR (for electronic combat / reconnaissance) and the Tornado ADV (air defence variant) interceptors. Of all of them the IDS fighter-bomber model won the most fame or lack of it in my eyes. During the First Gulf War they were shot out of the sky and suffered more losses than any other Coalition aircraft. The first British aircraft to be lost was a Tornado and within a few days they had to be withdrawn and used for easier missions.
The official reason for the withdrawal was that they accomplished what they had to – Wild Weasel strikes against anti-aircraft sites. The official reason is crap; in the end the US stealth bombers did what the Tornadoes failed to do. In other words, failure with a capital F. I listened to experienced fighter pilots discussing this calamity and they were from both sides of the Iron Curtain making their views interesting enough to write a report to Angelique about it.
In simple terms they claimed that the Panavia Aircraft GmbH), a tri-national consortium consisting of British Aerospace, MBB of West Germany and Aeritalia of Italy had not incorporated the lessons of the USAF in North Vietnam and thought very wrongly that sheer speed and gutsy flying on a very low level would dodge missiles and anti-aircraft guns. They were sadly mistaken. It did not work in North Vietnam, it did not work in Angola and it did not work in the Gulf War. Despite this setback no less than 992 aircraft were built and they constantly updated. The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) became the only export operator of the Tornado and the airframe is expected to fly up to 2025, fifty years after its first flight. This proved to me, again, that the West had not really had a chance to test their weapons themselves against First World countries since 1945. The Israeli versus Arab conflicts cannot, in any terms, be said to be First World conflicts, not with less than good pilots on the Arab side. Nor was our own Angolan Experience First World although, in all the conflicts mentioned, the latest Soviet Union equipment were encountered and destroyed. Yet, no First World country had fought against another First World since World War Two. Korea was not, it was against the North Koreans and Chinese, Vietnam was not, the Gulf Wars were not.
There will be a gnashing of teeth in any future conflict between First World countries. Take for instance night vision, something the First World Armies are so proud of for reasons I don’t get. It is only an advantage if your enemy don’t have their own night vision and your likely enemies, Russia & China, have night vision and good night vision at that. Where is your advantage now? And yet I never see or hear about training missions for such events, it is always “we have the night vision advantage!” Mate, you don’t. You better start thinking what will happen when you meet with professional soldiers, airman and sailors every bit as good as you and led by non-liberal politicians very willing to take losses. War is not as Hollywood says it is, you always suffer losses and you always have to adapt, no war plan ever survives the first shot and the opposition has a nasty habit of changing the rules. They have been watching you for decades and they don’t like you much.”
Of course, I am entitled to my opinions, rightly or wrongly but what is fact is that the RAF can supply six Tornadoes for this campaign (a joke of epic proportions when you see what the rest are supplying). That is how far the UK is reduced and it is a tragedy. A proud nation, despite my comments of their war crimes during the Second Anglo Boer War, reduced to what? Let me explain - according to intelligence analysts about 80% of all foreign fighters for ISIS holds British passports! The once proud Royal Navy has to go to the Americans now to relearn how to fly and fight with an aircraft carrier and that is only when the new carriers are operational, years in the future, and with American equipment too! They lost the skills of large carriers in the 1970s already. Then we have the UK nuclear deterrent in the few remaining ballistic submarines, ah, yes, American equipment too! And yet once, a long time ago, British engineers were reckoned to be the best in the world. They still are smart and you find them all over the world, working for Chinese and other companies and doing excellent work. You have to wonder, what went wrong with the Pommies? It is sad. What will this pinprick help them? Nothing, they will experience more 2005 Tube bombings now and they are showing to the world they lack leadership. Even the arch liar Winston Churchill did better than this, second time around, Suez Fiasco, the 1953 (illegal) overthrow of Iran etc. Six Tornadoes are not going to make any difference.
George M James is a pseudo name for the author and used for security reasons. He is an expert on counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in sub Saharan Africa, a military and war historian and published author of 43 books. His late wife was an American Patriot that served with the U.S. Navy. His books are widely read among military veterans of many nations.