The Royal Air Force has just released some stunning shots of the three special-colored “Tonka” jets that celebrate nearly 40 years of service of the type.
On Mar. 31, 2019, the Royal Air Force will retire its Tornado GR4 aircraft, bringing the about 40-year career of the iconic attack aircraft to an end.
In order to celebrate the imminent withdrawal from active service, three Tornado jets (trainer variants – with dual controls) have been painted in special color scheme: in November, both the IX(B) Sqn and the 31 Sqn, the last two Tonka units, both based at RAF Marham, rolled out their specials, followed, a few days ago, by another aircraft, ZG752, which was given the retro old grey/green camouflage scheme used before all the aircraft were painted grey.
The three aircraft took part in a joint sortie on Jan. 23, 2019.
“I was immensely proud to have led the ‘Tail Art’ formation, our first event which celebrates the imminent retirement of the Tornado after almost 40 years of service,” Group Captain Ian (Cab) Townsend, Station Commander at RAF Marham, who led formation in images, said in an official release.
“The success of the sortie was borne out of the outstanding Whole Force support at RAF Marham who remain focused on sustaining Tornado operations and are as committed today as they were in 1982 when the first Tornado landed at the Station.”
As the RAF website highlights, the Tornado first entered British service in 1979, principally in the Cold War nuclear strike and interdiction role. Its combat debut in the 1991 Gulf War heralded a period of near continuous operations which continue to this date.
“Some 28 years after those first missions to help liberate Kuwait the RAF’s two remaining Tornado squadrons, IX(B) and 31 Squadrons, remain on operations in the Middle East fully committed to the fight against Daesh as part of the Global Coalition effort”. Unfortunately, only until Mar. 31, 2019.