Last flight of the Harrier

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Harrier jets will fly for the last time tomorrow.

The Royal Navy planes, which have been axed along with HMS Ark Royal, will take off from RAF Cottesmore for the final time and fly in formation over seven military bases before returning to their base for the final time.

The decision to decommission the planes, which are similar to the Sea Harriers which played a key role in the Falklands War, has been highly controversial and led to a bitter backlash from former naval chiefs.

The Harrier jets were due to continue flying until 2018 and would have cost 800m to retain. Instead, the government decided to keep the RAF's Tornado jets which Lord Aster said would cost 4.8bn to keep flying until the new Joint Strike Fighter jets arrive for the two new Portsmouth-based aircraft carriers in 2019.

The MoD says the Tornados were kept because they are better in Afghanistan. Defence minister Nick Harvey said: 'This decision was taken on the basis of military advice.'