RAF bids farewell to the Tornado

3 Tornados carry out a flypast to mark the end of service for the Tornado (Image: John Edwards)
3 Tornados carry out a flypast to mark the end of service for the Tornado (Image: John Edwards)

The Royal Air Force has said goodbye to the Panavia Tornado in a farewell tour of the UK which took place over the last 3 days.

Originally designed as a low-level penetration bomber and strike fighter for the Cold War, the Tornado has been in service with the Royal Air Force for almost four decades.

The Tornado Flypast in formation (Image: Ian Grinter)
The Tornado Flypast in formation (Image: Ian Grinter)

It first saw active service in the first Gulf War in 1991 but has been the RAF’s premier strike aircraft in every conflict since its entry into service.

Its swept wing design and ground following radar meant it could fly fast and low, literally hugging the terrain to fly under air defences.

The 'Gold Star' Tornado (Image: John Edwards)
The ‘Gold Star’ Tornado (Image: John Edwards)

It was capable of carrying and delivering a huge range of weapons ranging from the WE.177 freefall nuclear bomb which would have been its early role through to the latest smart weapons such as laser guided JDAM bombs.

It will be replaced by Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, which have now fully taken of the protection of UK’s Airspace and the Lockheed Martin F35 Lightning II which had recently entered service.

The Farewell flypast banks around towards Cardiff Airport (Image: Ian Grinter)
The Farewell flypast banks around towards Cardiff Airport (Image: Ian Grinter)

The Farewell tour saw three Tornados carry out flypasts at sights key to the aircraft’s history such as MOD St Athan, Rolls-Royce Bristol, RAF Spadeadam, DECA Sealand, RAF Valley and of course, its key bases of RAF Marham, RAF Lossiemouth and Leuchars Station.

Dark Skies heralded the arrival across most of the country, but it didn't dampen spirits (Image: Philip Dawson)
Dark Skies heralded the arrival across most of the country, but it didn’t dampen spirits (Image: Philip Dawson)
About Nick Harding 701 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.