RAF

'Time To Move On': RAF Chief Looks To Future After Tornado's Final Flypast

The Tornado GR4 will be retired after almost four decades in service.

The RAF Tornado has completed its final flight in a flypast over the disbandment parade for the jet's last two squadrons.

The Tornado will retire at the end of March after almost 40 years in service.

Members of the last two squadrons to operate the aircraft attended the parade in a hangar at the jet's home base of RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Squadron leader Ian Dornan, the pilot for the Tornado's final flight, described it as an "absolute honour and a privilege".

He said: 

"It's really when I think about all the aircrew that have gone before me and all the engineers that have made it possible to put the jet in the air."

The last Tornado GR4 touching down at RAF Marham
The last Tornado GR4 touching down at RAF Marham after its final flypast (Picture: MOD).

The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, watched the jet taxi in for the last time and said it was a "hugely significant moment in the RAF's history".

"The Tornado has been the greatest part of my RAF career and so if my eyes are just a little bit glassy it's not just down to the wind that's blowing today here at Marham," he said.

The RAF chief went on to say: "The Typhoon now can fire all of the weapons that the Tornado could, and of course, the Typhoon is the next generation of combat aircraft and we've got the F-35 now has its operational capability.

"So, 37 years on its time to move on to the next generation, no matter how sad that is for so many of us."

The two squadrons at the disbandment parade were 9 Squadron and 31 Squadron.

The world's first operational Tornado squadron, 9 Squadron, had operated the aircraft since 1982.

It will be stood up again as a Typhoon squadron at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

RAF Tornado on runway after final flight
RAF Tornado on runway after final flight (Picture: MOD).

31 Squadron, known as the Goldstars, operated the Tornado since 1984.

It is set to be stood up again to operate Protector drones.

The duties of the Tornado, which was originally used in combat during the first Gulf War, will be taken over by Typhoon jets with newly-fitted weapons systems.