The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) will deploy an additional four RAF Tornado GR4s to boost Nato’s reconnaissance capability in support of the ongoing Libyan mission.

The aircraft are in addition to 12 RAF Tornados already deployed at Gioia del Colle air base in Italy and the deployment will have no effect on operations in Afghanistan.

The aircraft, equipped with reconnaissance airborne pods for Tornado (RAPTOR), will provide extremely detailed reconnaissance imagery over large areas.

UK defence staff’s chief communications officer major general Nick Pope said, “Gathering the intelligence needed to precisely target these forces remains a key part of Nato’s efforts in prosecuting this campaign.

“As a formidable attack aircraft this deployment will also provide a useful secondary increase to Nato’s overall strike capability,” he added.

Nato is conducting aerial operations in Libya to enforce the no-fly zone imposed by the UN to protect civilians from attacks by troops loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.