Jaguar's farewell to bases in Norfolk

The pencil-thin shape of a Jaguar jet darted through British skies for the last time yesterday, bringing a proud era of aviation to end. A farewell flight by the warhorse warplane included a buzz over the Norfolk airbase which was its home for more than 30 years.

The pencil-thin shape of a Jaguar jet darted through British skies for the last time yesterday, bringing a proud era of aviation to end.

A farewell flight by the warhorse warplane included a buzz over the Norfolk airbase which was its home for more than 30 years.

The last RAF Jaguars flew earlier this year at Coningsby in Lincolnshire where they moved after the closure of RAF Coltishall.

But a plane owned by defence evaluation agency QinetiQ took to the skies for a final time yesterday combining a final working day with a farewell flypast over bases with connections to the jet.


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That included a mid-morning swoop over Coltishall, where the Jaguar was based between 1974 and last year, as well as the still-active Marham base, where some of the plane's former engineers are now based.

QinetiQ press officer Douglas Millard said they had a fleet of planes for developing equipment, with the Jaguar used for night vision goggles and helmet mounted information and target displays used on other aircraft such as the Tornado and Typhoon.

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The two-seater trainer Jaguar, index number XX833, went to the Ministry of Defence in February 1975 and was bought by QinetiQ in 2001.

It was being grounded having "run out of hours" and was unable to fly without a major service, which was not being done as the aircraft was no longer used by the RAF, through some still flew overseas including in Oman.

The plane, which has flown 4,700 sorties and clocked up more than 5,000 flying hours, was still likely to be used as a test bed, but on the ground, he added.

The Jaguar has a proud service history, having been hatched in the 1960s as a joint Anglo-French project to replace the Gnat and Hunter, as a trainer and attack plane.

It entered service in 1974 and played a major role as a fighter-bomber in the 1991 Gulf war, as well as operations over Iraq and the Balkans.

The ageing airframe was updated over the years with improved engines, naviga-tion and laser targeting gadgetry.

Coltishall was closed and the Jaguars moved away last year as the plane was replaced by the new Typhoon Eurofighter.

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