Following the recent series of finale flypasts over the UK, the RAF’s Tornado force has carried out a sortie over Lincolnshire with nine aircraft from its base at RAF Marham in Norfolk. The route from Marham took the formation over College Hall at RAFC Cranwell where a graduation parade for new officers had taken place.
RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Ian ‘Cab’ Townsend, said: “It is sobering to think that most of the officers graduating today would not have been born when Tornado first entered service in 1979. Sad though it is, the time is right for Tornado to retire and hand the baton of UK Combat Air capability to the Typhoon and F35B Lightning, both exceptional aircraft able to meet the challenges of future warfare.”
In the immediate term, the Tornados 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.