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charlie_c67

What's in a role? RAF style.

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Just a quick question/clearing up. Can anyone explain what the difference is in the RAF between the attack, ground attack and strike roles? As far as I can see there's no rhyme or reason to what an aircraft gets labelled.

Can anyone explain please?

Confused of Bicester

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IIRC back in my day attack was a normal bombing role,ground attack was our version of combat air support (like what the A-10 does) & strike,well I'll have to kill you if I tell you...lol (it was nuclear bombing,and we had to re-qualify on strike loads every 30 days,work in pairs & know what each other does so we could spot sabotage by other team mates...)

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Attack isn't really an RAF recognised role; ground attack is. Strike was reserved for buckets of sunshine. Strike never appeared in the list of aircraft role designators (apart from on the Sea Harrier FRS (Fighter; Reconnaissance; Strike) Mk 1 - which is of course FAA not RAF).

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The was a Jaguar GR1,it was the designation of the Jaguar S,it's just as like the Harrier GR5,that particular model wasn;t in service very long & was upgraded to the GR3.

So how come the jaguar didn't get labelled as the GRS.1? I thought it also had (or was intended to have) nuclear bombing?

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Attack isn't really an RAF recognised role; ground attack is. Strike was reserved for buckets of sunshine. Strike never appeared in the list of aircraft role designators (apart from on the Sea Harrier FRS (Fighter; Reconnaissance; Strike) Mk 1 - which is of course FAA not RAF).

What about the Buccaneer S.1 and S.2-or did that stand for something different?

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What about the Buccaneer S.1 and S.2-or did that stand for something different?

Nope, Strike - then again the FAA always liked to be different

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Another anomaly is the Phantom FG1 (Fighter Ground what? Ground Almonds, Ground Hog? Ground coffee?) I'd like to know if anyone has the story on that one. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Admiralty didn't want to add the 'A' as that was reserved for non Nuclear attack aircraft and the Phantom had nuclear capability but I do not know if that story is apocryphal or genuine.

Duncan B

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What about the Buccaneer S.1 and S.2-or did that stand for something different?

They were meant to carry the insta-sun, hence the S designation if I've got this right.

And Spike, wasn't the Jaguar S designation just the companies designation for it, like E and M, rather than the RAF's choice?

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Attack isn't really an RAF recognised role; ground attack is. Strike was reserved for buckets of sunshine. Strike never appeared in the list of aircraft role designators (apart from on the Sea Harrier FRS (Fighter; Reconnaissance; Strike) Mk 1 - which is of course FAA not RAF).

Wasn't the "S" in TSR2 for strike?

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Don't get me started on British aircraft designations... There was a robust designation system that fitted every eventuality. But sadly the MoD didn't want to follow their own system.

The first problem was with the Phantom. The RAF leased a number of F-4Js from the US Navy. They could have fitted it easily into the system by designating it as Phantom F.3. But no... It became Phantom F-4J(UK). :mental:

Next came the Mark 2 version of the Sea Harrier. The Mark 1 was FRS.1 - fighter, recce and strike (strike also included ground attack with something slightly less potent). The Mark 2 version should have been FGA.2. However, it seems that the MoD were seduced by the glamour of the US Navy Hornet, so the Mark 2 Sea Harrier became the F/A.2 :mental:

And then we have the Typhoon... typically the first designated version of an aircraft should denote the primary role of that aircraft. Subsequent marks can designate additional roles. So the first version of the Lightning was the F.1. The trainer version was the T.4. So why was the first version of the Typhoon designated T.1???? :mental:

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If I remember correctly (although I may be proved wrong) when referring to an aircrafts designation and capability, the term "strike" generally referred to a nuclear carrying role. Once that role was transferred to the Royal Navy and thence the submarine service, there was no need for the term in an aircraft designation so it was slowly "lost" as a designator. Hence why the Harrier went from FRS.1 to FA.2 because it lost its strike role (plus we didn't really have the air dropped, free fall nukes anymore by that point!)

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I think "S" for "Strike" prefix was an FAA thing, not RAF - the only types I can think of, of the top of my head, with "S" mark prefixes were the Wyvern, Buccaneer and Sea Harrier (in the form of "FRS"). The Scimitar also had a "Strike" role, but since it was ostensibly a fighter originally, it got an "F" mark prefix. The RAF inherited the "S" along with the Buccaneer from the FAA.

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Wasn't the "S" in TSR2 for strike?

Yes, but that was the manufacturer's/designer's designation, not it's service designation. Presumably it would have become the Whiff* GR1, or B1, or B(I)1 or whatever, in the same way that the MRCA became the Tornado GR1/F2/F3/GR4 etc etc.

I knew 'Strike' meant nuclear, but it hadn't dawned on me before that it was only applied to ex-FAA types.

(*Insert speculative name of choice)

Edited by stuartp

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Another anomaly is the Phantom FG1 (Fighter Ground what? Ground Almonds, Ground Hog? Ground coffee?) I'd like to know if anyone has the story on that one. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Admiralty didn't want to add the 'A' as that was reserved for non Nuclear attack aircraft and the Phantom had nuclear capability but I do not know if that story is apocryphal or genuine.

Duncan B

I always thought G was just short for Ground attack - so the FGR2 was Fighter/Ground attack/reconnaissance? Same as the G in Hunter, Jaguar,Harrier etc.... :shrug:

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The designators mean whatever they want them to mean for that model, and the letters can have different meanings depening on the designation.- so GR was Ground Attack and Recce. So because the RN Phantom didn't have a recce capability, it was the FG1. The RAF mk 2 did have a recce capability, so it became FGR2. The Harrier and Jaugar were the same.

The Tornado was technically the same, but of course the GR1 had a dedicated variant, the GR1A.

'S' was strike (Later denoting Nuclear, but I don't think the Wyvern had a nuclear capacity), but as mentioned that was an FAA designation that carried over into the RAF.

'A' for attack was adopted by the FAA when they went out the nuclear business (The Sea Harrier 2 was originally FRS2), and to make their helos seem a bit more sexy (Officially, to more accurately describe their role) - so we had HMA for maritime attack for the Merlin and Lynx. The RAF gfot in on the act for the Nimrod and it became MRA4.

Of couse, A and S have also been used for Anti-Submarine, and A has been used in other designations as well (Particularly AH for Army Helicopter or Attck Helicopter in the case of Apache) - remember what I said about meaning what they want them to mean?

The '/' in the original Sea Harrier FA2 designation disappeared quite quickly (allegedly because the computer systems couldn't handle a slash in the designation) but still appeared in official documents right up until the time it went out of service.

TSR2 was a project code - if the aircraft had reached service, it would have been the BAC Whaterver GRmk1 or Bmk1

Edited by Dave Fleming

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And Spike, wasn't the Jaguar S designation just the companies designation for it, like E and M, rather than the RAF's choice?

Jaguar S was the RAF single seater - the French equivalent was Jaguar A

Jaguar B was the RAF two-seater - Jaguar E was the French equivalent

Jaguar M was the French-only Maritime version.

Note that all the above were company (SEPECAT) designations, not military service letters.

The RAF used GR1 and T2 for S & B

Ken

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I always thought G was just short for Ground attack - so the FGR2 was Fighter/Ground attack/reconnaissance? Same as the G in Hunter, Jaguar,Harrier etc.... :shrug:

Ah but the Hunter was the FGA9!

Duncan B

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Ah but the Hunter was the FGA9!

And as Exhibit B: the Kestrel FGA.1.

Cheers,

Andre

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From the Aircraft knowledge part of ACP 34

RAF aircraft are generally designated by a type name (also known as the “Reporting Name”) with role letters and mark numbers to follow. Some of the more common role letters are as follows:

AEW Airborne Early Warning
B Bomber
C Transport
E Electronic/Flight Checking
F Fighter
FG Fighter Ground Attack
GR Ground Attack Reconnaissance
HAR Helicopter, Air Rescue
HAS Helicopter, Anti-submarine
HC Helicopter, Cargo
HCC Helicopter, Transport and Communications
HT Helicopter, Training
HU Helicopter, Utility
K Tanker
MR Maritime Reconnaissance
R Reconnaissance
PR Photographic Reconnaissance
S Strike
T Trainer

6. Thus a Sea King HAR 3 is an RAF Sea King helicopter fitted for the air rescue role.

Phantoms FG.1 fighter/ground attack, FGR.2 fighter ground attack recce. The F4J (UK) was designated as F.3 but was hardly used.

Edited by sniperUK

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And as Exhibit B: the Kestrel FGA.1.

Cheers,

Andre

FGA was dropped in the mid 60s. The story regarding the F-4J(UK) is that F3 was not used to avoid confusion with the Tornado F3, which was known as the 'F3'

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From the Aircraft knowledge part of ACP 34

...

Air Cadet Publication no 34 being quoted now then..........

Long time since I read that book for my Air Training Corps exams, way back in the mid to late 80's. But still a very good source of information for questions like this.

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FGA was dropped in the mid 60s. The story regarding the F-4J(UK) is that F3 was not used to avoid confusion with the Tornado F3, which was known as the 'F3'

Which does seem a bit odd, since the Lightning F.3 was still in use, albeit limited, around the time the Tornado F.3 entered service and no one seemed to have confused those two.

Cheers,

Andre

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Which does seem a bit odd, since the Lightning F.3 was still in use, albeit limited, around the time the Tornado F.3 entered service and no one seemed to have confused those two.

Cheers,

Andre

It was just known as the Lightning, but the Tornado ADV was known as the F3 to distinguish it from the GR variant. So Tornado meant the bomber and F3 meant the interceptor

Edited by Dave Fleming

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