The Panavia Tornado was jointly developed by the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.

The Tornado multi-role aircraft is operational in five different forms: Tornado GR 1 interdictor / strike aircraft for close air support; counter air attack and defence suppression; GR 1A tactical reconnaissance aircraft; Tornado GR 1B long-range maritime attack aircraft and Tornado F3 long-range air defence fighter.

The GR 4 is a mid-life update of the GR 1.

It is one of the world's most sophisticated and capable interdiction and attack aircraft, with a large payload, long range and high survivability.

Developed and built by Panavia, a tri-national consortium consisting of British Aerospace (then the British Aircraft Corporation), MBB of Germany, and Alenia Aeronautica of Italy, the Tornado first flew on August 14, 1974, and saw action with the RAF and AMI (Italian Air Force) in the Gulf War. International co-operation continued after its entry into service within the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment, a tri-nation training and evaluation unit operating from RAF Cottesmore, England. Including all variants, 992 aircraft were built for the three partner nations and Saudi Arabia.


Tornado GR 1 Interdictor / Strike (IDS) aircraft are in service with the German Air Force and Navy (290), Italian Air Force (90), UK Royal Air Force (186) and the Royal Saudi Air Force (96). The aircraft is equipped with an advanced sensor and defensive aids suite for low-level, deep-penetration missions in all weathers by day and by night.

The F3 Air Defence Variant (ADV) Tornado is armed with short-range and medium-range air-to-air missiles. A typical weapons payload would include four Sidewinder short-range missiles and four Skyflash medium-range missiles.

Tornado F3 aircraft were the first aircraft to be fitted with the short-range MBDA ASRAAM air-to-air missile which entered service in January 2001 and was declared ready for operational deployment in September 2002. 100 RAF F3 Tornadoes have been upgraded to carry AIM-20 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, Raytheon IFF 4810 SIFF (Successor Identification Friend or Foe) system and Honeywell laser inertial navigation system.

TORNADO Specifications
Type Multi-role combat aircraft
Manufacturer Panavia Aircraft GmbH
Accommodation Two, pilot and weapon systems operator
Armament 1 x 27mm Mauser Cannon
  3 x weapon points under fuselage
  4 x weapon points under wings
  AIM-9L Sidewinder AAM
  BL755 CBU
  Paveway II, III, EPR (IV)
  Storm Shadow CASOM
AAM 4 x Sky Flash
Performance Mach 2.2 (1,452mph/2,333kph)
Wingspan (open)  13.9m
Wingspan (swept) 8.6m
Length 16.7m
Height 5.9m
Weight empty 31,620lb (13,890kg), max take off weight 61,700lb (28,000kg)
Powerplant 2 x Turbo-Union RB199-34R turbofans max thrust 14480 lbs (66 kN)

Tornado GR4 Strike/Attack, Tornado GR4A reconnaissance, Tornado F3 Air defence

Photo Copyright Alasdair Taylor