The UK Royal Air Force, having correctly designated the onslaught upon Iraq an anomalous conflict from which lessons should not be drawn, promptly does this by congratulating itself upon the effectiveness of its Panavia GR4 Tornado upgrade ("Tornado thumbs up", Flight International, 17-23 June).

Your cover shows the fallacy. Clean, the Tornado has a big-enough radar signature; encumbered with weapons, sensors and external fuel tanks - and even electronic countermeasure kit - its radar echoing area must approach a hectare. In the absence of largely US defence suppression, our strike forces would pay dear to penetrate against even halfway decent opposition. The BAE Systems Harrier GR9 and, worse, the Eurofighter suffer from precisely the same flaw.

The UK's warplanes need much more internal space, for fuel and weapons stowage, to remain less detectable on radar when carrying warloads to tough targets; "economising" on volume at the design stage costs us both effectiveness and expensive correctives.

Noel Falconer Luc-sur-Aude, France

Source: Flight International