UK News: RAF Tornado makes final flight into retirement - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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UK NewsRAF Tornado makes final flight into retirement

07:51  14 march  2019
07:51  14 march  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

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RAF Tornados make final flypasts Jump to media player The aircraft are being retired after nearly 40 years of service. The BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Beale was lucky enough to get a ride in one of the Tornado 's last official flights .

"As the Tornados have retired from frontline flying service, we at RAF Cosford have started to take them in because we can use them for engineering in years going forward," Sqn Ldr Chris Wilson explained from the Media captionLarge crowds watch Tornado retirement flypast at RAF Cosford.

RAF Tornado makes final flight into retirement © Getty A Royal Airforce Tornado GR4 fighter jet nicknamed the Tonka The RAF Tornado will fly for the final time today, bringing to an end four decades of distinguished operational history with the British armed forces.

A disbandment parade and flypast will finally mark the end of an era after a valedictory airborne tour of the UK in recent weeks.

The last flight, if the weather allows, will be flown by Squadron Leader Ian 'Doorknob' Dornan and Squadron Leader Stephen 'Bamber' Beardmore - between them they have more than 9,000 flying hours on the Tornado.

The Head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, himself a former Tornado pilot, paid tribute to the aircraft.

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Media captionRAF Tornado jets make final return to the UK. Eight Tornados stationed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and used in the fight against the Islamic State group have now returned to RAF The first five jets made the five-hour return flight on Monday, and the last three flew back on Tuesday.

The aircraft is set to fly over three RAF bases close to the county in a series of flypasts.

He said: "We can all take immense pride in what the Tornado has achieved in defence of the nation over nearly four decades, and reflect back on the courage, commitment and achievements of everyone who has contributed to the success of this extraordinary aircraft."

RAF Tornado makes final flight into retirement © Getty Sir Stephen Hillier with the Queen at the RAF centenary last summer

"This truly is the end of an era, having played a vital role in keeping Britain and its allies safe for four decades," Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

The Tornado entered service in 1979. It was originally designed as a Cold War bomber aircraft, intended to fly low and fast over the flat plains of eastern Europe.

Nicknamed the 'Tonka', it saw operational service for the first time during The Gulf War in 1991 - sixty aircraft were based at stations in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

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RAF Tornado jets will be marking their retirement with a final flypast, it has been confirmed. People across Britain will get a chance to say farewell to the fighter jets when they make a series of flights on 19, 20 and 21 February. The fleet, based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, will be retired from service by

RAF Tornado jets make final UK return Jump to media player The fighter jets, used in the fight against the Islamic State group, return to RAF Marham in Norfolk. The BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Beale was lucky enough to get a ride in one of the Tornado 's last official flights .

RAF Tornado makes final flight into retirement © Getty An RAF Eurofighter Typhoon has been upgraded to give it the Tornado's flexibility

It was the start of long period of operational service which included campaigns over Kosovo, Afghanistan and the 2003 Iraq War.

In recent years Tornados were deployed to bomb Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria from RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus.

After four years flying missions as part of Operation Shader, the remaining Tornados returned to the UK on 5th February.

The Tornado is being replaced by the new F35 stealth jet which also has the capability to fly off the Royal Navy's two new aircraft carriers.

And the RAF Typhoon fleet, also operating over Iraq and Syria, has undergone an upgrade to give it some of the Tornado's capabilities including the ability to launch the advanced Brimstone missile.

RAF Tornado makes final flight into retirement © Getty F35-B Lightning stealth jets, which will take over capabilities from Tornado force

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