UK confirms two Tornado GR4 squadrons will go by June

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Two of the UK Royal Air Force's Panavia Tornado GR4 squadrons are to be decommissioned on 1 June, as the service's fleet of the type will be reduced to 136 aircraft.

The RAF confirms that the units to fall victim of the Tornado force reduction are Marham-based 13 Sqn and 14 Sqn, which is located at Lossiemouth in Scotland.

"These squadrons have been selected by the Air Force Board Standing Committee, taking into account operational commitments and the relative seniority of the squadrons at each base," the RAF says. "The choice of these squadrons in no way indicates the direction of ongoing basing discussions," it adds.

 
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Removing the two units from its force structure will reduce the size of the Tornado GR4 force to five frontline squadrons, and forms part of a process through which around 1,020 RAF personnel will be notified of their redundancy by September. These will represent the first casualties of a process that will eventually reduce the service's staffing level by 5,000 posts.

"These reductions in manpower requirements result from changes to force structures and reform in the way in which we do business; there will be no effect on current operations," says defence secretary Liam Fox.

Meanwhile, Fox says the MoD is still working on the details of a plan to remove a large number of student pilots from the RAF's training system.

"A decision has been taken to remove up to 170 RAF student pilots from the flying training pipeline. The criteria being used to select those trainee pilots to be removed will be a combination of the service need, officer qualities, ground-based pilot aptitude testing, and flying performance to date," he says.

"The selection process for re-streaming trainee pilots is not due to finish until mid-March," Fox told the House of Commons on 28 February.