Tornado signs off with diamond nine over RAF Marham
PUBLISHED: 16:25 28 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:38 28 February 2019
A roar of jet engines over the Norfolk countryside heralded the end of an era for the RAF.
After 40 years of continual service, the Tornado signed off in style with a nine-ship flypast.
Plane spotters lined the narrow lanes around RAF Marham to catch a glimpse of the iconic warplane’s final flight.
The aircraft took off one by one at around 2pm under leaden skies for the 60-mile journey to RAF Cranwell - a few minutes’ trip as the Tornado flies.
After performing a flypast over the Lincolnshire base, which is the home of the RAF’s training college, the formation turned back for Marham.
Then the aircraft sailed majestically around the base perimeter in a diamond nine formation, their wingtips almost touching.
After two long loops the aircraft thundered back across the airfield in two waves, before peeling off one by one to land.
The two-seater Tornado entered service in 1979 and first saw action in the 1991 Gulf War. Since then, the aircraft have been almost continually operational over Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Crews flew their final armed mission from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, on January 31, before returning to RAF Marham.
The Tornado’s armed reconnaissance role has been taken over by the Typhoon jet, which has been modified to carry the same weapons and surveillance equipment.
RAF Marham, the Tornado force’s home, will become the main base for the F-35 Lightning, the air force and Royal Navy’s new stealth bomber.