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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.

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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.

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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Emergency landing for GR4 aircraft from RAF Marham

RAF Tornado GR4 Credit: PA Images

A Tornado jet has had to make an emergency landing at a Scottish airport after a bird strike.

The GR4 aircraft from Norfolk's RAF Marham landed at Prestwick Airport, Ayrshire, following the incident shortly after 10.30pm yesterday.

The two-person jet, which was on a training mission, was still at the airport this afternoon, being checked over by engineers.

It is not yet known if it suffered any damage as a result of the incident.

An RAF spokesman said: "The two-seater aircraft was on a standard training mission in Scotland.

"It had a bird strike. The crew were aware of it and they made a precautionary landing into Prestwick.

"The aircraft is still there and it's awaiting engineering assistance before recovery."

It is not clear how long the jet will remain at the airport, the spokesman added.

He said the aircraft, carrying a pilot and a weapons systems operator, would have been in the vicinity of Prestwick when the crew made the decision to divert to the airport.

"It landed safely and both crew are fine," he added.

Prestwick Airport said its emergency procedures swung into action after it was made aware of the plan to land the jet.

A spokesman said: "An RAF Tornado experienced a bird strike and declared mayday at 10.36pm last night.

"Prestwick declared emergency so all the emergency services were there to await the aircraft, which arrived 10 minutes later.

"It landed safely at 10.46pm. The emergency was called off, and everyone stood down, at 11pm precisely."

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