It takes three people 25-30 minutes to bomb a target in Libya, under current rules of engagement and procedures used by the Royal Air Force. The Eurofighter Typhoon has used weapons in combat for the first time in Operation Ellamy (the UK's part of the Libya war), but exclusively in "mixed-pair" operations with two-seat Tornado GR4s, XI Squadron executive officer Sqn Ldr Rupert Joel said at the Paris show on Sunday.
The Typhoon carries the Litening pod but has not self-designated targets, Joel said. The only air-to-surface weapon carried by the Typhoon in Libya is the Enhanced Paveway 2 1,000 pound dual-mode (laser and GPS/INS) guided bomb: the new Paveway IV, a 500-pound weapon designed to reduce collateral damage while providing the same effects (via improved accuracy) is not ready.
Most of the Typhoon attacks have used the weapon in GPS/INS mode, Joel said, because that is more accurate than laser, according to Joel. However, lasers on both the Typhoon and Tornado are active so that a weapon can be "walked off" the target if the ground situation changes after release.
Six Typhoons and 12 Tornados are currently deployed to Gioia del Colle in Italy as part of Ellamy. Joel was one of the first pilots deployed with XI Squadron, which is to be relieved by 3 Squadron next week.
What was not up for discussion was the reasons for the lack 0f self-lasing by the Typhoon, even though that capability was first supplied to the RAF under Project Gordian in 2008 and is routinely used in weapons testing. (The rival Rafale flew in mixed-pair operations for its first operational tours in Afghanistan but is now self-lasing.)
Joel said that the mixed-pair operation provided some benefiots, inclyding situational awareness from the Typhoon's defensive aids subsystem and the ability to take advantage of "20 years of air to ground experience" in the Tornado force. Another cited advantage was the ability of three people to cross-check the RoEs, including positive identification and collateral damage checks.
Further questions were cut off by the attending RAF press representative, Sqn Ldr Bruno Wood, who repeatedly interrupted to remind the media that Joel, as a pilot, was not qualified to discuss the reasons behind operational decisions, said that a question about how targets were designated was "irrelevant", and told one reporter that he was being "rude" by asking questions that were beyond Joel's area.
-like control raised an interesting question: if the RAF considers Joel qualified to drop bombs on people from a GBP73 million aircraft, why does it not want him to answer questions without getting live directions on-stage?