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RAF Marham Tornados fly home from Afghanistan

Tornado GR4s from RAF Marham in Norfolk have left Afghanistan and are heading back to the UK after more than five years of operations in the country.

Tornados leaving Afghanistan Credit: Ministry of Defence

The fast jets, from 31 Squadron based at RAF Marham flew out of Kandahar airfield early this morning having flown their final missions.

Tornado on the ground Credit: MoD

Aircrew and ground crew from the squadron have provided vital support to NATO efforts in the country since they took over from RAF Harriers in June 2009.

During its time in Afghanistan, the Tornado GR4 has provided vital information about enemy activity on the ground, using the Litening III and RAPTOR reconnaissance pods to spot potential hazards such as roadside bombs.

The jets have also provided close air support deterring enemy forces by flying low and fast over their location or striking important targets with precision when necessary to do so.

– MoD spokesperson
'Tornado force' Credit: MoD

The Tornado remains the fast jet workhorse of the RAF and has performed superbly over many years in Afghanistan, supplying life saving intelligence and precision weapons in support of our mission there.

The whole Tornado force should be proud or their work and I pay tribute to their professionalism.

– Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon

Air and ground crew will now make their way via RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, to RAF Marham where they will be welcomed home by friends and family.

Norfolk aircraft fly missions over Iraq

A Tornado taking off in Cyprus

RAF reconnaissance aircraft from Norfolk have begun flying missions over Iraq.

A Marham Tornado prepares for a sortie

Six Tornado warplanes from Marham near King's Lynn have been sent to the British airbase at Akrotiri in Cyprus.

Each aircraft has a crew of two

They've been flying surveillance missions over Northern Iraq to pinpoint the location of refugees in need of relief supplies as they flee from extremist forces who've forced them to leave their homes.

The RAF base at Akrotiri

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Tornado jets from RAF Marham leave for Iraq

Tornado jets off to Iraq from RAF Marham.

Tornado jets from RAF Marham have this afternoon left their West Norfolk base as they prepare to help with the aid effort in Northern Iraq.

Thousands of people were left stranded as they tried to escape Islamic militants.

The Marham airmen have flown to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and will carry out surveillance ahead of aid drops to refugees being carried out by cargo planes.

RAF Marham jets to help relief effort in Iraq

Tornado jets from RAF Marham are being deployed to bolster the relief effort in Iraq. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

Tornado jets from RAF Marham in West Norfolk are being sent to bolster the relief effort in Northern Iraq, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

A MOD spokesman said crews would be pre-positioned in an undisclosed location over the next couple of days.

The aircraft would be used for reconnaissance missions to help aid planes, rather than an active strike role.

Thousands of people have been displaced in the country as Isalmic State fighters bolster their grip on major towns and cities.

Multi-million pound revamp for RAF Marham

RAF Marham currently operates Tornado aircraft Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Ministry of Defence is planning millions of pounds of upgrades to RAF Marham in Norfolk, to support the operating of the next generation of fighter aircraft.

The proposals, which are still in the early planning stages, will see an estimated £7.5m injected into the creation of new concrete vertical landing pads to support the operation of the RAFs brand new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, due to enter service in the coming years.

Able to land and take-off vertically, the new F-35 aircraft are currently under testing with manufacturer Lockheed Martin in the United States.

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Norfolk-based motorcyclist Simon Andrews killed

Simon Andrews raced for RAF Marham reserves Credit: ITV Anglia

A professional motorcycle racer with the Norfolk-based RAF Marham reserves racing team has died.

Simon Andrews was competing for another team at the North West 200 race in Northern Ireland when he crashed on Saturday.

He was airlifted to hospital but died yesterday.

Andrews recently returned to Snetterton in Norfolk after a serious crash two years ago.

Jobs secured by £125M Tornado deal

Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham. Credit: PA Images

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has trimmed £90 million off a contract to maintain, repair and upgrade the RAF's fleet of Tornado GR4 fast jets over the next five years, it has been announced.

A £125 million contract sealed with BAE Systems involved a cut in the price originally agreed when the company first took on the work in 2006, said the MoD.

The MoD said that more than 600 engineering jobs will be secured by the contract, which involves work at RAF Marham in Norfolk, RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, RAF Leeming in Yorkshire and at BAE System sites in Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "This investment will ensure our Tornado aircraft continue to be battle-ready for the next five years, as a key part of the RAF's fast jet fleet.

"They currently play a vital role in supporting troops on the ground in Afghanistan and they will continue to form the backbone of our ground attack capability until the Joint Strike Fighter arrives and the Typhoon's ground attack capability is fully mature in a few years' time.

"This contract will help sustain the specialist skills across the UK which make Britain a world leader in engineering."

The MoD's chief of materiel (air), Air Marshal Simon Bollom, said: "The Tornado GR4 is a once-in-a-generation aircraft and we broke new ground with the ATTAC support contract which was signed in 2006.

"This ATTAC B contract builds on a firm foundation and delivers yet further improvements at reduced cost which will keep Tornado operating at the highest level for the next five years."

The GR4 is currently deployed in Afghanistan providing air support to international forces, and has previously supported operations in Iraq, Kosovo and Libya. The contract will run until the aircraft are retired at the end of the decade and replaced by Typhoon and Lightning II jets.

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