Emotional scenes marked the end of the last Tornado fleet in Scotland yesterday.
The standard of XV (Reserve) Squadron, which has served the country for 102 years, was paraded for the final time at RAF Lossiemouth in a stirring display of military precision.
Yesterday’s disbandment of the squadron marks the beginning of RAF Lossiemouth’s next chapter.
After facing closure the air base is now the biggest in Scotland and is preparing to begin a £400million transformation to welcome Poseidon P-8 spy planes in 2019 and another Typhoon squadron.
However, the booming future of the Moray base could not prevent emotional scenes yesterday to officially mark the end of the 24-year Tornado era in the region.
Wing Commander Paul Froome, officer commanding the squadron, led his troops through 131 precise orders in his final act in charge.
The haunting tune of the “Sands of Kuwait”, a tune written to commemorate the Gulf War, was played on the bagpipes as the troops left the aircraft hangar. The conflict was the squadron’s final battle honour.
There were 750 invited guests, including families and former personnel, packed into the hanger to witness the final act of XV(R) Squadron.
Wg Cdr Froome said: “I’m incredibly proud today. Members of the squadron have provided a stirring finale to the squadron’s history – and to be able to share today with many past and present members, as well as our families, has been wonderful.
“The hours of dedicated work the engineers have provided to the Tornado force over recent years has been replicated in their efforts today in this arena.
“It was an absolute honour to lead them through today’s parade, and I will be sad to leave them and RAF Lossiemouth.”
Two Tornados from the base were present in the hanger as the personnel dressed in their finest military regalia carried out their last duties as part of XV(R) squadron – although many will transfer to work on Typhoons.
The jets will be flown to RAF Marham in Norfolk over the coming months before they are withdrawn in 2019.
Tornados from the English base performed a flypast at Lossiemouth yesterday afternoon to pay tribute to XV (R)’s century of service.
The squadron was formed in Farnborough in 1915 and was instrumental in bombing raids during World War I. It took part in the Suez Canal crisis in 1955 as well as the Gulf War in 1991.
It moved to Lossiemouth in 1993 and has been responsible for specialist training on the Tornado jet ever since.
Flight Lieutenant Sam Williams was given the onerous task of being the last to carry the standard while joined by Warrant Officer Tam McEwan.
The flag, which bears the squadron’s coat of arms, will be laid up at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire later this month.
Group Captain Paul Godfrey, station commander of RAF Lossiemouth, said: “It is a sad day to see the squadron officially disband, ending over 23 years of Tornado presence in Moray.
“The squadron’s output in terms of quality training that has provided the RAF with such skilled air crew has been second to none and has been fundamental to the success of the Tornado on operations.
“All of the Squadron’s members on parade today have made a huge contribution to past and current operations worldwide and are highly regarded for their professionalism and skill.”