United Kingdom


The first unit to receive the Tornado was the TTTE at RAF Cottesmore on 1st July 1980. The British air crews, once qualified on the type at the tri-national training facility, were posted to the TWCU (Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit), formed on 1st August 1981 at RAF Honington, where they learned to use the Tornado as a weapons platform. The first operational front line squadron to receive the Tornado was 9th Squadron at RAF Honington, reformed for the occasion on 1st June 1982, followed by 617th Squadron (1st January 1983) and 27th squadron  (12th August 1983), both based at RAF Marham. With the role of developing the best operational attack tactics, the RAF established at 1st September 1983 the TOEU (Tornado Operational Evaluation Unit) at RAF Boscombe Down, subsequently re-designated the SAOEU (Strike/Attack Operational Evaluation Unit). Amongst other duties the unit was engaged in the development of the best tactics for target acquisition and attack procedures. 

The first Tornado was assigned to RAF Germany on 1st November 1983, delivered to 15th Squadron at RAF Laarbruch, while 16th and 20th Squadron received their first aircraft on 29th February and 29th June 1984, replacing the Buccaneers. Furthermore, the three attack squadrons based at RAF Brueggen, 14th, 17th and 31st Squadrons, replaced the Jaguar fighter bomber, while the last squadrons of RAF Germany to convert to Tornado was the II Squadron based at RAF Laarbruch in December 1988. With the end of the “Cold War”, the attack forces assigned to RAF Germany were progressively reduced, with the disbandment of numerous units and the closure of the two Tornado bases on German territory, the remaining squadrons taking their aircraft back to bases in the United Kingdom with concentration of operational units at Lossiemouth in Scotland and Marham in east England, before ceasing all Tornado operations in the UK in March 2019.

Squadron Version Base Operations
2<sup>nd</sup> Squadron GR.1/1A Laarbruch 1988-1989
2<sup>nd</sup> Squadron GR.4 Marham 1989-2015
9<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Honington 1982-1986
9<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Bruggen 1986-1998
9<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.4 Marham 1998-2019
12<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.4 Lossiemouth 1994-2014
13<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1/1A Honington 1989-1993
13<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.4 Marham 1993-2011
14<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Bruggen 1985-2001
14<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.4 Lossiemouth 2001-2014
15<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Laarbruch 1983-1991
15<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Honington 1991-1992
15<sup>th</sup> Squadron/OCU GR.4 Lossiemouth 1992-2017
16<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Laarbruch 1983-1991
17<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Bruggen 1984-1999
20<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1/1A Laarbruch 1984-1992
27<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Marham 1983-1993
31<sup>st</sup> Squadron GR.1 Bruggen 1984-1999
31<sup>st</sup> Squadron GR.4 Marham 1999-2019
45(r) Squadron TWCU GR.1 Honington 1981-1992
617<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.1 Marham 1982-1994
617<sup>th</sup> Squadron GR.4 Lossiemouth 1994-2014
SAEO GR.1 Boscombe Down 1983-2019
DRA GR.1 Boscombe Down 1983-2019


Considering the ADV version, the first fighter aircraft Tornado were delivered in September 1984 to 229th Operational Conversion Unit. The first front-line unit to be equipped with the definitive F.3 version was 29th Squadron at RAF Coningsby, in February 1987, following successively by the last two units operating the Lightning, 5th and 11th Squadron, which received their first F.3s in January and July 1988. In the course of the following years 23rd, 25th, 43rd, 56th and 111th Squadron were equipped with the ADV, gaining the new aircraft until May 1990. The last unit receiving the Tornado F.3 was 1435 Flight, based at Mount Pleasant airport in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas, replacing the last Phantom QRA with four fighters in July 1992.

The Tornado ADV was retired from operational service with the RAF in 2011 due to planned replacement by the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Squadron Version Base Operations
5<sup>th</sup> Squadron ADV F.3 Coningsby 1987-2003
11<sup>th</sup> Squadron ADV F.3 Leeming 1988-2005
23<sup>rd</sup> Squadron ADV F.3 Leeming 1988-1994
25<sup>th</sup> Squadron ADV F.3 Leeming 1989-2008
29<sup>th</sup> Squadron ADV F.3 Coningsby 1987-1998
43<sup>rd</sup> Squadron ADV F.3 Leuchars 1989-2009
56<sup>th</sup> (r) Squadron ADV F.3 Leuchars 2003-2008
65<sup>th</sup> (r) Squadron/229 OCU ADV F.3 Coningsby 1984-1992
111<sup>th</sup> Squadron ADV F.3 Leuchars 1990-2011
1435<sup>th</sup> Flight ADV F.3 Falkland 1992-2011
229<sup>th</sup> OCU/56° Squadron F.2/3 Coningsby 1984-2003