Lossiemouth-based No.1(Fighter) Squadron has left the Moray winter for the bright lights of Las Vegas.
Eight aircraft started their Trans-Atlantic journey this week, heading for Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada – just a short drive from the famous Las Vegas strip – for Exercise Red Flag, a regular large-scale affair hosted by the US Air Force.
Apart from participating in mock war for the next few weeks, the crews will also further the expansion of the Typhoon into a true air-to-ground aircraft (‘bomber’ in old RAF speak), and will carry out missions using the Paveway IV bomb, which can be equipped dropped with either Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance or a laser designator to get it exactly on target.
Paveway IV is one part of a triad of weapons for the Typhoon’s ground attack role. The second is the Stormshadow cruise missile, already used successfully by RAF Tornados, and is designed to be released at long range and can destroy hardened targets such as command bunkers.
Recently a trial, carried out by BAE Systems at its airfield at Warton, Lancashire, confirmed that Stormshadow can be fitted to RAF Typhoons; this announcement follows a successful launch trial by Italian Typhoons.
The third weapon is the Brimstone missile, six of which were fitted to a Typhoon alongside two Paveway IV bombs. The trial confirms that Brimstone can be fitted to the aircraft, and allows the integration programme to move towards airborne trials.
Brimstone has been used to great effect in Afghanistan and Libya by the RAF Tornado force, and is now being used in Iraq against ISIL forces. Its integration with Typhoon will enable the aircraft to attack targets with a high-precision weapon that minimises collateral damage.