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Libya Tornado crews return home

Tornado aircrews have arrived back on home soil after completing their mission in the skies over Libya.

Crews from RAF Marham, Norfolk, and RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, were deployed on March 19 as strikes in support of the rebel movement began.

Based at Gioia del Colle in Southern Italy, they played a key role in the 3,000 UK sorties, more than 2,100 of which were strike attacks on around 640 targets.

The final seven GR4 Tornados landed at Marham after the first nine arrived home on Friday.

Wing commander Andy Turk was greeted by his wife Abi and their two young sons. He said: "It is fantastic to be back with the family and the little ones but more importantly it's fantastic to bring the squadron back. They did an amazing job over the skies of Libya as part of the wider RAF efforts.

"It's been inspirational to see the momentous events over the last month. Because there were no British troops, it was very important that the RAF maintained our intelligence and surveillance."

Among the crew who landed was Flight Lieutenant Steve Morris who was reunited with spaniel Jezebel. He said: "It's great to be back."

The Tornado force, deployed under Operation Ellamy as part of the Nato operation, was led by Marham-based IX Squadron with additional aircrew and engineers from Lossiemouth.

They were deployed with Apache attack helicopters, airborne warning and control systems aircraft, VC10 refuellers and airborne radar aircraft. The Tornados' role over Libya was reconnaissance and surveillance as well as air strikes.

Although the RAF does not comment on specific sorties, one of the most used weapons was the Brimstone missile, which has a hit rate of more than 90%. Its precision allows the use of a small warhead with a low risk of collateral damage.

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