A Royal Air Force navigator from RAF Marham has become the first person in history to log over 6000 hours flying in a Tornado fast jet.
According to a news release from the RAF, Flight Lieutenant Chris Stradling 55, who is known as ‘Stradders’, was one of the aircrew that flew the Tornados recently to RAF Marham from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.
It took 31 years flying on the aircraft to achieve the 6000 hrs milestone and to date Stradders is the only person from the nations who fly the Tornado – UK, Italy, Germany and Saudi Arabia, to break the 6000-hour mark.
“6000 hours on any fast jet is not common and to be the first person to do so on Tornado is a real sense of pride”, he said.
“My current boss has been brilliant and has certainly helped me to put a large dent in the hours. If it wasn’t for him and several other members of the Tornado Force at RAF Marham I probably wouldn’t have got close.”
Recently, after almost four decades on operations, Royal Air Force Tornado jets returned home to RAF Marham from operations in the Middle East.
First entering service in 1979, the fast jets have been involved in Op Shader for the past four and a half years, the UK’s mission to defeat Da’esh in Syria and Iraq.
“It is with a heavy heart, but enormous pride, that we bid farewell to the Tornado from operations. This truly is the end of an era, having played a vital role in keeping Britain and its allies safe for four decades”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson
Assisted by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker from RAF Brize Norton, five Tornados returned to RAF Marham yesterday, with the remaining three returning today. Families and friends of the crew were on hand to welcome them back to the Norfolk base.
The Tornados’ weapons capabilities have been transferred to RAF Typhoon fast jets. Under the £425m ‘Project Centurion’, the Typhoon is now capable of delivering the Meteor air-to-air missile, the Stormshadow fire-and-forget cruise missile, and the Brimstone precision attack missile. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Typhoon’s “new weapon systems will keep us as a world leader in air combat for a generation”.