In the latest of AFM’s series of features celebrating the career of the Tornado GR at the end of its RAF service, Thomas Newdick speaks to two of the final navigators to fly the ‘Tonka’ – Flt Lts Phil
McGlone and Sam Baker.
As the RAF’s Tornado GR4 Force (TGRF) returned from its tenure in the Middle East and wound down operations back at its home station of RAF Marham, Norfolk, the force found itself in the unusual position of having more weapon systems officers (WSOs) – ‘navigators’ in service parlance – than front-seaters. The fast jet ‘nav’ is a dying breed in RAF service – once the ‘Tonka’ is gone at the end of March there’ll be no more requirement for backseaters in combat jets. It’s for this reason that the aircrew split started to become ‘lopsided’, as pilots left the TGRF for new postings on the Typhoon, F-35B or in flying training jobs.