The flying formation looked awesome on the news this evening. I don't really understand what our detailed airframe requirements are for Defence of the Realm etc, so can't add any informed comment on the (financial?) decision to withdraw them from service.
However, it is a sad day and the end of an era.
I was at RAF Cottesmore today and it was a moving event marred by low cloud that prevented the full 16 ship over Cottesmore that was expected. As for the future of the RN pilots; the ones I have spoken to are hoping for attachments to other navies in order to maintain some form of fixed wing currency. The US Navy on F18 is their ideal as they are of the opinion that when (if) JSF comes into service the RN will need pilots who are in a position to teach or fly Carrier ops quickly rather than have to train from scratch. The same is true for Ground Crew.
Not all RAF GR9 pilots will transition to Typhoon or GR4. I would image quite a few will get Reaper, especially as we're getting more of them and others will go rotary or multi engine. However, with huge cuts across nearly all fleets, there won't be many cockpits up for grabs.
I understand that the RN is looking at a small number of guys being seconded to USN FA-18, French Rafale and Italian and Spanish AV-8Bs. Others will probably have to go rotary.