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Air Platforms

UK retires Tornado after 40 years

01 April 2019
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The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) officially retired the Panavia Tornado combat aircraft from service on 1 April.

Having been in RAF service for 40 years, the Tornado has been on continuous combat operations since the Gulf War of 1991. (IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings)Having been in RAF service for 40 years, the Tornado has been on continuous combat operations since the Gulf War of 1991. (IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings)

The final two units operating the GR4 strike variant of the aircraft, 9 and 31 squadrons, lowered their command pennants at RAF Marham in Norfolk to mark the end of 40 years of service for the type with the UK.

Having entered service in 1979, the Tornado has been fielded by the RAF in both ground-attack roles with the GR1 and GR4 and in air-defence roles with the F2 and F3. Having gone to war for the first time during the first Gulf War of 1991, the Tornado has been on continuous operations ever since. Theatres have comprised Afghanistan, Iraq (Northern/Southern Watch and the second Gulf War), Libya, and Syria.

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