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, a ’70s airframe that is not ageing gracefully. Exhibit A: the two Brimstone missiles that accidentally ‘became detached’ during a landing in Cyprus today.
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 while the pride and joy of the Royal Air Force speedily shit their pants. The missiles didn’t explode, but the runway was closed afterwards.
The Panavia Tornado first flew in 1974, and have 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 They were meant to have been replaced by the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter by this point, but that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.