The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine fighters, which was jointly developed by the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
There are three primary versions of the Tornado, the fighter-bomber Tornado IDS (Interdictor/Strike), the interceptor Tornado ADV (Air Defence Variant), and the suppression of enemy air defences Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat/Reconnasiance).
Developed and built by Panavia, a trination consortium consisting of British Aerospace, MBB of Germany, and Alenia Aeronautica of Italy, the Tornado first flew on August 14, 1974, and saw action with the RAF in Desert Storm.
Including all variants, 992 aircraft were built for the three partner nations and Saudi Arabia. Though still in service, plans are currently underway to replace the aircraft.
The Tornado was originally designed as a low-level supersonic ground attack bomber, capable of taking off and landing in short distances. This requires good high-speed and low-speed flying characteristics.
With the wings swept fully forwards the Tornado GR4 generates greater lift because of the increased exposed wing area and the utility of full-span flaps and slats. This gives greater lift at lower speeds, reducing the minimum landing speed required and therefore shorter landing distances.
There are three primary subvariants, the Interdictor/Strike (IDS), the Air Defence Variant (ADV), and the Electronic Combat/Reconnasiance (ECR), with 80% commonality between the airframes.
The Tornado was designed for ultra-low level penetration strikes on Warsaw Pact targets in Europe using both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons, e.g WE.177. However, the end of the Cold War precluded it from ever seeing that use. A major feature of the Tornado GR.1 was its terrain-following radar, which allowed all-weather hands-off low-level flight, but current doctrine eschews extreme low-level flight and relies on inertial navigation with GPS updates rather than TFS.
Its actual combat debut came in 1991 in the Gulf War. Nearly 60 GR1s were deployed by the United Kingdom to bases in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The main initial task of the GR.1s was to use the JP233 runway denial weapon on Iraqi airfields. Flying a supersonic speeds at 50 to 100 feet above the ground proved costly for the Royal Air Force, as six aircraft were lost to Iraqi defences.
Specifications (Tornado IDS GR.4)
2× Turbo-Union RB199-34R Mk 103 afterburning turbofans, 43.8 kN dry, 76.8 kN afterburning (9,850 lbf / 17,270 lbf) each
A wide variety of air-to-ground weapons can be carried including Wasp ASM, Kormoran anti-ship missiles, BAe Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles, AGM-65 Maverick ASM, BAe ALARM anti-radiation missile, LAU-51A and LR-25 rocket pods, napalm bombs, retarded bombs, BL755 cluster bombs, and Paveway series laser-guided bombs, MW-1 munitions dispenser, JP233 munitions dispenser, Storm Shadow, Brimstone, Taurus missile, can be equipped to carry B61 nuclear bombs,
RAPTOR Reconnaissance pod and TIALD laser designator