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Training the last RAF Tornado crews

Photo: Jamie Hunter


With its out-of-service date now looming large in 2019, the last ever Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 Qualified Weapons Instructor (QWI) course is now under way at No XV(Reserve) Squadron, as well as the last ever ab initio aircrew course on the type.

You’d be hard pressed to find a combat jet in any air force inventory around the world that has anything like the service record of the Panavia Tornado GR4s of the RAF. The very same airframes that entered service as GR1s way back in 1982, that undertook some of the most hazardous missions in 1991’s ‘Desert Storm’, are still right at the leading edge of British air-power projection all these years later. Despite an out-of-service date (OSD) of 2019, the British Tornados are still playing a key role in Operation ‘Shader’.

In our current September issue, Combat Aircraft details how the drawdown in the RAF Tornado Force is reflected in the training requirement. The output of new weapon systems officers (WSOs — colloquially known as ‘navigators’) ended several years ago, and right now the final pilot training course is under way.

No XV (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth in northern Scotland has trained new Tornado aircrews since 1993 as the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU). This year also marks the last ever QWI course on the type.

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