Military Aviation

RAF XV (R) SQUADRON BIDS FAREWELL TO THE ICONIC PANAVIA TORNADO GR4

The unit is expected to disband on Mar. 31, 2017 in preparation for the retirement of the Tornado GR4 in 2019

Taken on Mar. 17, 2017 at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lossiemouth, the interesting photos in this post show XV (Reserve) Squadron completing its final sortie with the iconic Panavia Tornado GR4. The unit in fact is expected to disband on Mar. 31, 2017 in preparation for the retirement of the Tornado GR4 in 2019. In the meantime squadron aircraft and crews will be absorbed into front-line squadrons at RAF Marham who will carry out refresher training when required.

XV (R) Squadron was the RAF’s Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for the Tornado GR4. The OCU teaches pilots how to fly the aircraft and what tactics to use to best exploit the performance of their aircraft and its weapons.

XV (R) Squadron had been the first RAF Germany squadron to receive the Tornado in 1983.

Deployed to Bahrain during the build-up to Operation Desert Storm, the Squadron was given the specific brief to knock out Iraqi Air Force bases by bombing the runways. On its second mission, an ultra-low-level daylight mission against Ar Rumaylah airfield with Squadron Leader Pablo Mason leading a flight of four Tornados, his number two crew of John Peters and navigator John Nichol were shot down and became POWs. Mason (along with many other RAF Tornado crews) flew a total of 24 bombing missions in Desert Storm, from ultra-low-level daylight, medium-level night bombing and on Feb. 2, 1991 the first-ever Buccaneer/Tornado attack using laser-guided bombs. On Feb. 14, another aircraft crewed by XV Squadron personnel was shot down, resulting in the loss of Flt Lt Stephen Hicks and the capture of Flt Lt Rupert Clark.

After the Gulf War, three Tornado Squadrons at Laarbruch were disbanded, XV Squadron being one of these, at the end of 1991. On Apr. 1, 1992, the XV (Reserve) numberplate was given to the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit at Honington. XV(R) Squadron remained at Honington training Tornado aircrew until Nov. 1993, when it moved to Lossiemouth, its present home.

Source: Royal Air Force; Photo credit: Crown Copyright

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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