The last operational flights of the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Nimrod MR2 maritime patrol aircraft took place in the north of Scotland, Guernsey and Woodford on 30 and 31 March.

The Nimrod MR2 aircraft is being replaced by the advanced maritime, reconnaissance and attack (MRA4) aircraft, which is expected to be delivered to the RAF in the coming months.

UK RAF Kinloss station commander Group Captain Robbie Noel said that the Nimrod had been involved in every major conflict of the last 40 years, as well as protecting the UK’s shores and supporting those working at sea through its search and rescue role.

The Nimrod’s primary mission was to provide anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and deliver a new long-range search and rescue capability in support of military vessels and commercial shipping.

Powered by four Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines, each capable of generating over 12,100lb (55kN) of thrust, the Nimrod had a maximum speed of 500kt (925km/h) and an unrefuelled mission endurance of nine hours.

The MR2 aircraft was later equipped with an L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared surveillance camera.

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The MRA4 aircraft has been modified from the Nimrod MR2, with current-generation Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofan engines, a new larger wing and a fully refurbished fuselage.

The Nimrod was due to be retired several years ago but had been forced to undergo several modifications to keep the aircraft operational in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The fate of the MR2 was sealed when a mid-air explosion in Afghanistan between an MR2 and a Lockheed TriStar refuelling tanker claimed 14 lives in September 2006.

RAF Kinloss Air Command, which acted as a permanent main operating base (MOB) for the Nimrod MR2 fleet, will begin operating the MRA4 in 2012.