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Tributes paid as Tornado jet retires from RAF service

The final RAF Tornados will leave service before the end of March, with its capabilities transferred to the Typhoon.

Tributes have been paid to the Tornado jet as it is set to be retired from RAF service after almost 40 years.

The aircraft, in service since 1979, was first used in combat during the first Gulf War.

The final RAF Tornados will leave service before the end of March, with its capabilities transferred to the Typhoon.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson paid tribute to the Tornado as he announced that the UK’s F-35 Lightning stealth fighter jets are ready to be deployed on operations for the first time.

He said of the Tornado: “This is an amazing aircraft that has inspired so many.

“I remember as a child seeing it flying over ahead as I grew up in Scarborough as it flew down the Vale of Pickering.

“It was a magnificent aircraft, but an aircraft that has done such amazing service for our country.”

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Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson during his visit to visit RAF Marham (Joe Giddens/PA)

Tornados have performed duties in Kosovo, Libya, Afghanistan, and more recently against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Wing Commander Kev Gatland, Tornado Force Headquarters Chief of Staff, said: “I think everyone is incredibly sad to see the Tornado go but there’s a reality that sits behind it that the future generation of aircraft such as the Lightning and the Typhoon aircraft as well really are the future of the next generation of the Royal Air Force.

“Whilst it’s tinged with sadness for everyone because so many people have spent so many years, if not careers working, servicing and flying this aircraft the reality is it’s time for it to move on now and for the future generation of the aircraft to take its place.”

He said that to commemorate the Tornado Force there will be fly-pasts around some stations that were Tornado bases.

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