Britain celebrates Tornado during farewell flypast

WITH almost 40 years of Royal Air Force service coming to an end, the iconic Tornado jet has undertaken a series of finale flypasts around the UK.

For three days starting earlier this week, members of the public have been able to see a formation of the long-serving fast jets undertake a tour of the UK that have overflown most RAF bases and other key sites associated with the aircraft. Here we share some images of the flypast from RAF Lossiemouth.

Nearly 26 years after being introduced at RAF Lossiemouth, the iconic Tornado aircraft returned to Scottish skies for the last time this week.

Taking part in the flypast, the boss of IX(B) Squadron, Wing Commander James Heeps said:

“It is a great privilege to be part of a national event that allows the public to say farewell to a brilliant aircraft that has been the cornerstone of our operations for so many years. It’s also a sad occasion because it will mean that from the end of next month the Tornado will never fly again.”

Chief of the Air Staff taxiing out for the final farewell flight.
Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) taxiing out for the final farewell flight.

 

First entering service in 1979, the fast jets has been used in operations across the world, most recently bombarding Daesh to push the terrorist group back through Syria and Iraq. After over four years on Operation Shader, on 5 February this year the aircraft finally returned home from operations for good.

CAS taxiing back after completing the final farewell tour.

 

Another of the formation aircrew who had recently returned from operations will be Wing Commander Matt Bressani, the boss of 31 Squadron, the other remaining Tornado formation.

“The national response to the Tornado farewell campaign and the reception we received when we returned from operations earlier this month shows what a special place this aircraft has in the nation’s heart.”

 Flypast over RAF Lossiemouth by three Tornado GR4s from RAF Marham
Flypast over RAF Lossiemouth by three Tornado GR4s from RAF Marham

 

In the immediate term, the Tornadoes will be replaced by new weapons capabilities for the Typhoon jet. Under ‘Project Centurion’, worth £425m over the past three years, the Typhoon now has deep strike cruise missile Storm Shadow, air-to-air missile Meteor and the precision attack missile Brimstone at their disposal.

The RAF’s new fleet of F-35 Lightning jets will form the backbone of the UK’s combat air fleet alongside the Typhoon jets in the coming years.

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.

The Station Commander of RAF Marham, Group Captain Townsend presented a print to CAS, Sir Stephen Hillier after returning from the Final Farewell Tour to Scotland.
The Station Commander of RAF Marham, Group Captain Townsend presented a print to CAS, Sir Stephen Hillier after returning from the Final Farewell Tour to Scotland.

 

Nicknamed the “Tonka”, 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.

CAS, Sir Stephen Hillier and Lady Hillier celebrating after returning from the final farewell tour to Scotland.
CAS, Sir Stephen Hillier and Lady Hillier celebrating after returning from the final farewell tour to Scotland.

 

Two years later they were upgraded to the GR4 model, which has been used ever since over the skies of Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Imagery © Crown Copyright.

 

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