1. ITV Report

Retirement date announced for Tornado fleet

Out of service date announced for UK Tornado fleet Photo: Chris Ison/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The UK's Tornado fleet will go out of service in March 2019, it has been confirmed.

Defence firm BAE Systems revealed the date in its half-year-statement published earlier today.RAF Marham is one of the two UK bases for the fleet. Last month defence chiefs hinted that the Norfolk airbase will be the UK base for the new generation of fighter jets.The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has announced that the Lightning II jets are "likely to be based at RAF Marham but that no decision has yet been made.The first of the UK’s new stealth combat aircraft was handed over to the Ministry of Defence in Texas on Thursday. The aircraft are Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) The first of the UK’s new stealth combat aircraft was handed over to the Ministry of Defence in Texas last month. The aircraft are Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL)

The UK is the first country outside the US to receive these aircraft and Mr Hammond announced that the MoD intends to order a fourth Lightning II aircraft next year to add to the three already on contract.

Lightning II will be operational from land based airfields from 2018, when it will also commence flight trials off the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier.

"The out-of-service date for the UK Tornado fleet has been confirmed by the MoD [Ministry of Defence] as March 2019

– BAE Systems - half-yearly report