UK Tornado fleet to retire in 2019, says BAE

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Royal Air Force operations with the Panavia Tornado GR4 are to conclude before the end of this decade, with the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II to assume its duties.

"The out-of-service date for the UK Tornado fleet has been confirmed by the MoD [Ministry of Defence] as March 2019," BAE Systems said in its half-year results statement on 2 August.

Flightglobal's MiliCAS database shows that the RAF's active inventory of Tornado GR4s totals 124 aircraft. These are flown from its Lossiemouth air base in Scotland and from Marham in Norfolk, with a detachment also forward-deployed at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan.

 

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In July, defence secretary Philip Hammond said the UK's future fleet of short take-off and vertical landing F-35Bs are expected to be based at RAF Marham, but a final decision had yet to be taken. Land-based operations with the stealthy type are scheduled to commence in the UK in 2018.

Meanwhile, BAE says it has delivered 73 upgraded aircraft under its Tornado Sustainment Programme deal with the Royal Saudi Air Force, including 12 which were returned to service in the first six months of 2012.

"The weapons element of the programme will see increasing deliveries in the second half of the year," it adds.