After Iraq, and with these additional upgrades, Tonkas made their way to Afghanistan to take part in that conflict. “We can all take immense pride in what the Tornado has achieved in defence of the nation over nearly four decades, and reflect back on the courage, commitment and achievements of everyone who has contributed to the success of this extraordinary aircraft.”. But the Tornado certainty made its mark on the RAF and will be fondly remembered years from now as an essential part of the service's history. © 2021 Royal Air Force. In 2003, Tornados took part in the opening phases of the invasion of Iraq, employing the new Storm Shadow cruise missile, as well as RAPTOR, in combat for the very first time. Following the retirement last year of the last 29 Tornados still deployed, going forward, the Royal Air Force (RAF) has a fleet of just 119 … This left BAC in the United Kingdom, the West German firm Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm, and Italy’s Aeritalia to handle various portions of the development and production of the aircraft, which eventually became known as the Tornado. Unfortunately, nothing, no matter how "Tonka Tough," lasts forever. The last major campaign for the RAF’s Tornados began in 2014 with operations against ISIS in Iraq, with those operations eventually extending into Eastern Syria. The RAF has released further details for the farewell fly-past of the Tornado jet over North Wales. Please switch to using Chrome if you can. In 1995 14 Sqn of RAF Bruggen was involved in the Queen's Birthday Flypast. The Tornado, nicknamed the Tonka, is being retired by the RAF after four decades, in a flypast today. It's not clear how much longer the Saudis, who are steadily acquiring more advanced combat jets, expect to fly their Tonkas. They were also called upon for non-combat missions now and again. This system effectively rendered the older TIRRS obsolete, allowing tactical reconnaissance squadrons to fly regular GR1s and GR4s. Separately, in the late 1990s, the Tornado GR1 and GR4s gained the ability to carry the Reconnaissance Airborne Pod Tornado (RAPTOR), a U.K.-specific version of the DB-110 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance pod, which you can read more about here. The RAF only operated the IDS and ADV types, referring to them as Tornado GR-series and Tornado F-series aircraft, respectively. The squadron, which traces its history back to World War I, and took part in the famous World War II operation to sink the German battleship Tirpitz, had previously operated the Avro Vulcan heavy bomber. It is X32. Tornado F.3s, stored at Shawbury. It certainly marks a major change for the RAF. Lessons learned from the GR1’s performance during the conflict also contributed to a Mid-Life Update program that began in 1996. The RAF expected these jets to focus primarily on intercepting Soviet bombers, and engage them at beyond visual range, during any potential conflict. The F2 quickly gave way to the F3, which finally featured working radars, as well as an improved version of the RB199 engine. The Tornado has been a constant presence in British skies and major factor in U.K. military operations since the RAF received its first examples in 1979. The Tonkas had firmly become the primary combat aircraft in the RAF. The event included a parade by members of both units and a fly-by from a single Tornado GR4, which concluded the last official flight by the type in British service. The Falklands War was just ending as No. the trainers. The U.K.'s New 'Tempest' Stealth Fighter Project Already Faces Serious Challenges. 1, 2019, while 31 Squadron will come back into being in 2024 to begin flying the Protector unmanned aircraft, a derivative of the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. The UK is a world-leader in the combat air sector, which supports over 18,000 highly skilled jobs with a mix of skills and technologies unique in Europe. A Libyan tank seen through a Tornado GR4's targeting pod before its destruction at the hands of a Brimstone missile. In Iraq in 2003, 85 percent of all the weapons they used were “smart.” At this time, the primary precision guided munitions were laser-guided Paveway bombs, but the Tornadoes arsenal eventually expanded to include dual-mode laser- and GPS/INS-guided Enhanced Paveway bombs and dual-mode Brimstone missiles. Three specially-painted RAF Tornado jets flew together for the first time in what is the aircraft's retirement year. 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