A BELOVED plane in a village near Bicester has been saved from an 'ignoble' end thanks to pressure from local councillors, residents and an MP.

Arncott's Tornado GR1 Plan, which has sat outside MOD Bicester in the village since 2002, was due to be scrapped by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in July 2019, but was put on hold after it received opposition to the removal.

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The 'gate-guardian' plane was one of the first to come off the production line in 1979 and locals are so used to seeing it guard the RAF gates in the village, that they did not want to see it go.

MOD said it was 'considering a number of options' for the future of the aircraft and more than a year later a solution has been found with the plane set to go to an airfield museum in Salisbury.

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An RAF spokesperson confirmed: "Boscombe Down Aviation Collection will be the future home of the Tornado GR1 currently located at MOD Bicester, providing a suitable environment for the aircraft to be displayed and maintained safely.

"However, the ongoing Covid-19 crisis has thus far, prevented the movement of the aircraft, work on this will resume as soon as is practicable."

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Residents said it would have been a 'shame' for the plane to be dismantled and had called for it to be put in a museum.

Arncott Parish Council had support from Aviation Heritage UK and hoped to get the All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation onboard as well as The British Aviation Society.

Cherwell district and county councillor Dan Sames who serves Arncott had also helped to campaign against the aircraft's removal with the help of North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis.

Although he is disappointed that it will eventually leave the village, he is happy to see it be preserved.

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He said: “While I am sad to see this iconic gatekeeper leave Arncott, I am thankful that this historic aircraft has been saved for posterity. At the aviation collection, the aircraft will join other notable planes and will be able to be preserved and spared further damage by the elements.

"I’m pleased that the Parish Council, myself and our MP have been able to play our part in saving the Tornado from an ignoble end.”