aircraft and weaponsFOREWORD
fast jet reconnaissance transport/refuel maritime flying training helicopters air-to-air air-to-ground aircraft guns reconnaissance pods regiment
Air Commodore Paul Thomas MBE BSc RAFDirector Corporate Communication (RAF)Ministry of DefenceRoom 1/50Metropole BuildingNorthumberland AvenueWC2N 5BP
undamental to everything the RAF tries to achieve is theequipment we have at our disposal, much of which relieson world-beating, cutting-edge high technology that has beentested in conflict. It is this equipment that when operated,maintained and supported by highly professional personnel, makes theRAF a truly potent deliverer of Air Power.In defence of our airspace at home and abroad, the Tornado F3maintains our Quick Reaction Alert with the ASRAAM missile, which is themost up-to-date and effective air-to-air missile deployed anywhere in the world. The next generation air-to-air missile, the Meteor, a fire-and-forget missile, will give the RAF a further significant advance in missile capability when it enters service early in the next decade. The combination of Typhoon and Meteor will defeat all current and projected air-to-air threatsfor the foreseeable future.For expeditionary operations overseas, the backbone of the RAF’soffensive aircraft is the recently upgraded ground-attack version of the Tornado, called the GR4, which carries a comprehensive suite of sophisticated weapons and equipment. Also in this role is one of theRAF’s most versatile combat aircraft, the Harrier GR7. In time, the Harrier GR7 will be updated with new engines and avionics and will beredesignated the GR9. Looking even further ahead, the GR9 will bereplaced with the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing variant of theLockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter, which will incorporate stealthtechnology and is capable of carrying twice the payload of a Harrier, over twice the distance. As well as upgrading aircraft, the RAF is buying a new range of offensive weapons, which combine pinpoint accuracy with a very highsurvivability rate. One such weapon is Storm Shadow, which was highly successful during the recent hostilities in Iraq. As well as providing improved operational capability, these precision weapons will reducegreatly the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties.Reconnaissance remains one of the most vital functions of the RAF. The reconnaissance versions of the Tornado GR4, the Jaguar GR3 and theHarrier GR7 are used in the tactical reconnaissance role. This capability has been further enhanced by the recent introduction into service of theRaptor pod for the Tornado GR4, which provides high-resolution imaging at an extremely long range and represents the most sophisticated dual-band reconnaissance system for tactical jets in the world. Operatedtogether, Raptor and the Tornado GR4 are a truly world-beating combination. In the electronic intelligence gathering role, theintroduction of the Sentinel R1 in 2005 will complete the third arm of theISTAR triad of Sentinel R1, E-3D Sentry and Nimrod R1. These capabilities are supported by Air Transport and Support Helicopter fleets, which are also enjoying enhancements with the recent arrival of the C-17 Globemaster for strategic heavy-lift operations and theintroduction into service of the Hercules C-13OJ and the Merlin HC3helicopter. Development work on the A400M is moving forward and work on other projects, such as the selection of the future strategic tanker aircraft, is underway. The purpose of this publication is to detail the wide range of equipment that is used by today’s RAF and to introduce the platforms andsystems of the future. Overall, the RAF’s current equipment programme isthe most exciting it has ever had and it will ensure that the RAF cancommand air superiority and dominate the battlespace across land, seaand air. I hope that you enjoy reading it.