FOR 11 years, a mothballed RAF Jaguar GR1, known as the Gate Guardian, guarded RAF Gibraltar, but it is to be removed and dismantled later this month. All RAF stations around the world have what’s known as a Gate Guardian, which is a piece of obsolete equipment, normally an aircraft, mounted on a plinth and used as a static display symbolically guarding the entrance. The Jaguar, an aircraft which had been a regular visitor to Gibraltar during its service life replaced a Vulcan Bomber which had previously fulfilled the role.
According to the Ministry of Defence which manages the airfield, deterioration resulting from the high salt content in Gibraltar’s atmosphere has led to the Jaguar becoming a hazard to health and to flight safety. A team from the Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squadron based at MOD Boscombe Down will arrive later this month to carefully dismantle the aircraft, XX956, which will then be loaded into containers for return to the UK. At this stage, it is not known when or what it will be replaced with but the MOD has indicated that it has in mind an iconic aircraft to become the new Gate Guardian.