The RAF Tornado's aircraft will be armed with heat-seeking Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AASRAMS, also called AIM-132 missiles). These weapons, which cost $306,000 US each, can reach triple the speed of sound and have a longer range than other air-to-air missiles, allowing RAF pilots to shoot down enemy aircraft without being targeted themselves.
The Sunday Times' report quoted a defense source as saying:
"Up till now RAF Tornado's have been equipped with 500lb satellite-guided bombs — there has been no or little air-to-air threat. But in the last week the situation has changed. We need to respond accordingly."The next question, what will the US do if war is declared against NATO? I hope someone in the US media asks this first thing Monday morning.
"We need to protect our pilots but at the same time we're taking a step closer to war," said another source. "It will only take one plane to be shot down in an air-to-air battle and the whole landscape will change."