While Britain waits (and waits, and waits) for the F-35 to stop breaking, the mainstay of its ground-attack aircraft remains the Panavia Tornado, an aircraft that is not ageing gracefully. Exhibit A: the two Brimstone missiles that accidentally ‘became detached’ during a landing in Cyprus yesterday.
Britain’s Akorotiri airbase on Cyprus is being used to fly Tornados against Islamic State militants in Iraq. According to Reuters, two Brimstone missiles “fell off” a Tornado during landing this morning, causing the airbase to be shut down, with a few bowels surely loosened in the process. The missiles didn’t explode, but the runway was closed afterwards.
The Panavia Tornado first flew in 1974, and the craft has been a mainstay of the Royal Air Force’s air-to-ground fleet ever since. The jets have been upgraded multiple times in the last 40 years, but despite the maintenance, have seen a series of problems during their service in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and most recently against IS. They were meant to have been replaced by the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter by this point, but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon. [Reuters]