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The End of an Era: RAF Tornado Returns from Operations for the Last Time


13 February 2019

After almost 40 years serving the UK on military operations across the world, iconic RAF Tornado jets have returned home for the last time.

First entering service in 1979, the fast jets have been used in operations across the world, most recently bombarding Daesh to push the terrorist group back through Syria and Iraq.

Families and friends of the present-day squadron members were on hand to welcome them back to RAF Marham, Norfolk.

The Tornado will be officially retired from service at the end of March and will only be used for training purposes over the UK in the intervening period.

Originally named the Tornado GR1 the aircraft’s first use in live operations was during the Gulf War in 1991, when 60 Tornado GR1s were deployed from bases in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Later they were upgraded to the GR4 model, which has been used ever since over the skies of Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. 

The RAF has already trialled its Typhoon and F-35 Forces’ abilities to work together. In a series of operational trials, the evidence gathered has confirmed the potency of the combination and demonstrated the effectiveness of both platforms when operating alongside on another.

With its larger payload and increased agility and range, the Typhoon will operate in concert with the stealthy F-35 and its next-generation sensors, making the RAF one of the few air forces with the ability to exploit the synergy of 4th and 5th generation combat aircraft and delivering the UK a potent force equipped to counter evolving threats in the global environment.

The UK is a world-leader in the combat air sector, which supports over 18,000 highly skilled jobs with a mix of skills and technologies unique in Europe. The sector delivers a turnover in excess of £6billion a year and has made up over 80% of defence exports from the UK over the last ten years.

Source: MOD