After nearly 40 years of serving on military operations around the world, the RAF’s Tornado jets have returned home for the very last time.
The iconic jets first entered service in 1979 and they have been used in operations across the world, most recently bombarding Daesh to push the terrorist group back through Syria and Iraq.
The weapons capabilities of the soon-to-retire Tornados are now being delivered by RAF Typhoon jets, which will continue to take a leading role in the Coalition’s mission against Daesh.
The Typhoon is a twin-engine,
The Typhoon was designed originally as an air superiority fighter and is manufactured by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo that conducts the majority of the project through a joint holding company, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH formed in 1986.
Under ‘Project Centurion’, worth £425million over the past three years, the Typhoon can now also launch the world-leading Meteor air-to-air missile, the Stormshadow deep strike cruise missile and the precision attack missile Brimstone.
These improved RAF Typhoon jets will form the backbone of the UK’s combat air fleet, alongside the recently introduced new fleet of F-35 Lighting jets over 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.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“It is with a heavy heart, but enormous pride, that we bid farewell to the Tornado from operations.
“This truly is the end of an era, having played a vital role in keeping Britain and its allies safe for four decades.
“But, after so long in service, it is only right that we now look to the future.
“The combination of our
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said:
“My sincerest congratulations to the Tornado Force, returning home after more than 4 years of continuous commitment to defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria – an exceptional effort from everyone, well done and thank you.
“As a Tornado GR4 pilot myself, I have seen the aircraft develop over its nearly 40 years of service into an outstanding combat aircraft, flown, maintained and supported by similarly outstanding air and ground crew.
“The Tornado Force has been continuously deployed on operations since 1990, serving with immense distinction in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and the Balkans.
“I will personally be very sad to see the Tornado retire, but it is time now to pass the baton to our next generation combat aircraft.
“The F-35B Lightning is now operational and the Typhoon is now fully multi-role capable and able to take on the Tornado’s missions.
“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.”
Featured image credit: Ministry of Defence
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