Tornado F3s Mark 17 Years of Defending the Falklands

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One of the RAF’s most successful fast jet plane has reached 17 years defending British interests in the South Atlantic while the integrity of UK airspace’s maintenance is ongoing.

The Tornado F3 fighters of 111(F) Squadron based at RAF Leuchars in Scotland have given air defense cover from the Faroe Islands to the Falkland Islands by patrolling UK and NATO Air Policing Area One and by providing aircraft and manpower for 1435 Flight at Mount Pleasant Airfield.

Now in its twilight years, armed F3s and their crews nonetheless maintain a quick reaction alert (QRA) capability 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year to counter any airborne threat in two areas on opposite ends of the globe.

Four Tornado F3s will remain based in the South Atlantic until the autumn when they will be replaced by the Typhoon, the RAF’s latest multi-role combat aircraft, on a one-for-one basis.

The handover will be a historic moment for the veteran fighter which first deployed to the South Atlantic in 1988 to replace the Phantom F1.

The deployed Tornado F3s will then be dismantled in the Falkland Islands before being flown back to the UK where they will be ‘recycled,’ and used as spare parts for the Tornado GR4 aircraft currently operating in support of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, 111(F) Squadron will continue to support UK operations as part of Northern QRA. The Tornado F3 Force will finally stand down in 2011.