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Screenshot features

Flight Mission in Desert Storm

By Craig Handler, Senior Staff Writer, 20 April 2012

Ride along with the Royal Air Force and a flight of Tornado GR.1s as they obliterate a fortified Iraqi artillery position deep in the Ash Shamiyah desert. Sim fans can participate in the Mother of All Air Battles with the exciting “Operation Desert Storm” mod, recently released for Thirdwire’s Strike Fighters 2: Europe! Check it out at


24th February, 1991 was the second day of the ground war in Iraq. Over a month of relentless aerial bombardment had shattered much of the Iraqi war machine. However, as elements of the 1st (UK) Armoured Division crossed the breach zone into Kuwait, pockets of Iraqi resistance began to threaten the advance towards the Division’s Phase One objectives.

After initial success, Brig. Christopher Hammerbeck’s men of the 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were ambushed by armoured units belonging to the “Hammurabi” 1st Armoured Division of the 1st Republican Guard Corps. The Fusiliers were pinned and casualties from surprisingly accurate 152mm Iraqi artillery guns were beginning to mount.

Far from the front, at Tabuk Airbase, sirens were still wailing from the latest in a series of scud launch alerts, and most of the pilots of No. 20 Squadron were just crawling out of their MOPP gear when the frantic call was received. Elements of 3rd Battalion were engaged and taking heavy casualties. The pongos on the ground needed immediate assistance and the Royal Air Force was not going to let them down. Flight Lieutenant Chris Jenkins and his navigator Jamie Newton wasted no time running to their aircraft, the “Anola Kay.” She was fueled, armed and ready for them on the flight line. They would receive their mission tasking once they were in the air.

#1 – “Tabuk Tower, Gunslinger One One, holding short of two four right.”


#2 – “Gunslinger One One, this is Tabuk Tower, runway two four right, you are cleared for immediate takeoff, contact departure on frequency 124.7”


#3 – “Roger, Tower, Gunslinger One One is cleared for immediate takeoff, two four right.” Jenkins eased the throttle to full burn causing the Tornado to rocket off of the ground and into the sky with 8,650lbs of thrust generated by each Turbo-Union RB199-34R MK 103 turbofan engine


#4 – Eight medium capacity free-fall, non-guided general purpose 454kg bombs were loaded onto each of the Gunslinger Tornados


#5 – Since the air war began in January, Jenkins and Newton had flown multiple sorties out of Tabuk Airbase and had become very familiar with the surrounding desert and fertile plain. Their target, the Iraqi artillery site threatening 3rd Battalion, was located approximately 225 miles to the Northeast. Flying at just over 500 knots, Gunslinger flight would arrive over the target in approximately 45 minutes.


#6 – Back at Tabuk Airbase, coalition F-16s await tasking orders. There would be plenty of work for them in the coming hours


#7 – As Gunslinger flight nears the target, adrenaline surges through the two young flight lieutenants, even though no enemy aircraft are in the area and nothing is seen on the RWR


#8 – Even if the Iraqis managed to launch aircraft to defend the artillery site, eight F-14A Tomcats patrolling the local skies would take them down. Nothing with wings is going to threaten the Gunslingers while the US Navy is on duty


#9 – The British Tornados have passed their initial point and are beginning their run onto the target. “OK, nothing on the RWR, they’re all asleep, they’re all in their little beds. Coming in, running in, One mile, 508 knots.”


#10 – The Iraqi D-20 152mm artillery position. They actually think that netting will keep them safe.


#11 – “Committing!” Jenkins mashed the pickle button releasing a ripple of four Mk 83s. The aircraft jumped into the air, liberated from the burden of 4,000 pounds of high explosives. “Here we go, its going, its going, turning left to two four zero, I see the canisters…” Detonations rock the desert, “Looking good! Good hits!”


#12 – The Iraqi artillery piece is engulfed in flames. The force of the shockwave obliterates the small base


#13 – Futile AAA tries to respond to the sudden attack with no effect


#14 – With remaining payload, Jenkins brings Gunslinger 1-1 around for a second run. This time the Iraqi defenders have a chance to shoot back. Tracers arch into the sky chasing after the attackers as more explosions shatter the helpless position


#15 – More destruction in the desert, “Yee-ha!”


#16 –With the base in ruins, the mission is complete and the Gunslingers begin to head for home.


#17 – On the way home, Gunslinger 1-1 and 1-2 form up to reflect on another text book mission


#18 – Meet the crew of the “Anola Kay”


#19 – Low and slow, preparing for landing


#20 – Rolling on to approach vector, Gunslinger 1-1 is cleared to land


#21 – Home in time for supper. While taxing off the runway, Tabuk Tower advises Gunslinger flight that the Fusiliers are safe. With the artillery silenced, the Grunts were able to retake the initiative and destroy the attacking Iraqi armoured elements. The road to Kuwait City is open.

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