Op ELLAMY Update
Tornado GR4 aircraft from RAF Marham are currently playing a crucial role in Coalition operations in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973.
The GR4 aircraft is flying sorties focusing on Libyan military command and control facilities and air defence infrastructure as well as armed reconnaissance sorties aiding the objectives of protecting the civilian population from attacks by Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.
Currently, 12 of Marham’s Tornado GR4s are forward deployed to Italian Air Force Base Gioia Del Colle. The presence of the Tornados, together with the Typhoon fighters, means that the UK can strike both air and ground targets as required, ensuring that we protect civilians in Libya.
The RAF’s commander of air operations over Libya, Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell, has reported that, thanks to the efforts of personnel deployed from Marham, the Libyan Air Force ‘no longer exists as a fighting force’. “We are now applying sustained, unrelenting pressure on the Libyan Armed Forces. Their air force no longer exists as a fighting force, and its integrated air defence system and command and control networks are severely degraded to the point that we can operate over [Libyan] airspace with impunity. As we continue to enforce the no-fly zone, we are watching over the innocent people of Libya and ensuring that we protect them from attack.”
Marham based XIII, IX(B) and II(AC) Squadrons have played a leading role in the unfolding conflict, carrying out precision strikes making use of the GR4’s state of the art Litening targeting pods and a variety of low collateral guided munitions.
Wg Cdr Howie Edwards, Commanding Officer of XIII Squadron, told of how air and ground crews knew they were racing against time to prevent a massacre in Libya: “There’s no doubt genocide was about to happen in Banghazi. We knew we needed to get there before (Gaddafi’s) troops did.”
RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Pete ‘Rocky’ Rochelle, praised the efforts of his personnel and spoke of the continuing relevance of the Tornado GR4: “Whilst our main effort remains Operation HERRICK, supporting troops on the ground in Afghanistan, our air men and women have time and again demonstrated just how truly agile, adaptable and capable they are, responding to and focusing on the task of Operation ELLAMY. This once again proves the relevance and broad range of contingent capabilities of the Tornado GR4, having flown missions of historic distance from Norfolk: 3000 mile round trips in support of UNSCR 1973.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has passed on ‘heartfelt thanks from the British public’ to RAF personnel engaged in Libya during a surprise visit to the Italian air base at Gioia del Colle last week. “The whole country should be proud of what they have done,” he said. “They have responded incredibly quickly. They have flown many sorties. They have been extremely successful in holding back Gaddafi’s forces.”