Tornado base fears Russian retribution for air raids


The roar of the Tornado engines cut through the warm evening air around the bay at Limasos in Cyprus. It was 3am local time. 

The sound of the after-burners marked the beginning of Britain’s involvement in a US-led military strike against the Syrian regime.

An attack, in the dead of night, by US, UK and French forces.

The Tornado bomber jets are nearing retirement after nearly 40 years in the skies above Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. But this ageing fleet is busier than ever.

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British fighter jets preparing for take off to attack Syrian chemical weapons facilities. Pic: @ CROWN COPYRIGHT 2018
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The payload under the wings is a sophisticated satellite positioning cruise missile with a range of 300km.

Aimed at a target 15 miles west of the Syrian city of Homs it was said to be housing chemical weapons used by Syrian President Bashar al Assad against his own people.

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Reaching speeds of up to 800km/h, the Tornados reached their strike area within 30 minutes of leaving RAF Akrotiri, the base on the southern peninsular of the island.

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An RAF Tornado taxis into its hangar at RAF Akrotiri after conducting airstrikes
Image: An RAF Tornado taxis into its hangar at RAF Akrotiri after conducting airstrikes

A little under two hours later we observed the jets emerge out of dark skies visible only by their red and green beacons as they came into land safely.

The MoD declared the mission a success.

By the time the sun had come up the Tornado crews were being de-briefed and images from the jet downloaded for analysis.

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Akrotiri is a sparse place, home to radio communication towers and a nature reserve. Mood on the airbase was said to be relaxed.

But it has been a tense few days. There was, and still is, the fear that a strike launched from here could attract retribution by Russia, which holds a position just 300 miles to the east. Its missiles are capable of striking the base from the Syrian coast.

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It is possible that this action was a one-off – a warning to Syria to think twice about using chemicals weapons.

But anything is possible in these unpredictable times.

From – SkyNews


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