Yesterday afternoon, an unknown number of RAF Tornado jet fighter/bombers left RAF Marham in the south-east of England, and flew to Libya on a specific mission. That mission was aborted because, when the planes arrived over the target, civilians were spotted in the area.
It’s admirable that the mission was aborted and no civilians were killed, but an early morning BBC report stated that the planes had to refuel in the air three times due to the distance traveled.
Assuming these aircraft were equipped with additional, long range, fuel tanks the fuel payload would probably have been about 2,300 US gallons on each aeroplane. It’s probably safe to assume there were at least three aircraft involved, making a total of 6,900 gallons of aviation spirit.
Multiplied by four (the number of times the aircraft refueled, plus the original full tanks) produces a figure of 27,600 gallons of fuel for one aborted mission.
Had the mission not been aborted and the aircraft released their Sidewinder missiles (just one of the weapons systems on board the Tornado) each missile launched would have cost $84,000 (52,500 British pounds).
Sidewinder missiles are relatively cheap. The US Tomahawks cost half a million dollars apiece.
Let’s assume our Tornadoes fueled up at the local BP station before heading off on their jaunt to Libya. At US prices (around $4 a gallon) the bill for each aircraft would have been in the region of $9,200. Multiplied by three aircraft, refueled three times, the figure comes to a staggering $110,400.
And that’s a conservative figure. Don’t forget, the tanker aircraft had to call three times, and we all know fuel becomes a lot more expensive if the tow truck has to bring it out to you.
Then, of course, there’s the aircrew’s pay (time and a half after five o’clock), butties and Mars bars for the trip, wear and tear on the aircraft, etc.
They could have gone a lot cheaper by British Airways, and they wouldn’t have had to pee in a bottle.
Filed under: Jolly poor show, chaps