This entry is for the Interdictitor/Strike version. Information about the Air Defence version can be found on the Fighter Aircraft Wiki.

Tornadogr 06 0800

A pair of RAF Tornado strike aircraft in flight[1]



On 26 March 1969. Panavia was formed to handle the MRCA (Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) contract from the involved governments (UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands), originally comprising BAC, MBB, Fiat (later Aeritalia) and Fokker-VFW, with the Netherlands withdrawing that July (now BAe, Daimler-Benz and Alenia). The project definition phase began in May, leading to the formation on 1 June of Turbo Union Ltd, who were tasked with the design, development and production of the MRCA engine.

The Pre-development phase began in July 1970, followed in September 1971 by the involved governments declaring their Intention To Proceed (ITP) declared by the involved governments, and the first ground test run of the RB199 engine at Bristol, which took place on 27 September. In August 1972, the full development contract was awarded, with a decision about production investment following in March 1973.[2]


  • Crew: Pilot and navigator in tandem.
  • Cockpit: Front screen in 3 panels, and hinges forward for maintenance access. Single-piece clamshell canopy, hinged at rear. "Two stick" trainer variant retains operational capability.
  • Crew escape: Martin Baker Mk 10A fully automatic ejection seats, zero-zero to 625 kts CAS/Mach 2 and 50,000 ft (15,240 m). Canopy jettison prior to ejection, but MDC assists egress in unlikely case of jettison failure.[3]


  • Fixed guns: 2 x 27-mm Mauser cannon, in the sides of the lower fuselage. Selectable high and low rate of fire. No guns in the GR Mk 1A reconnaissance version or ECR.
  • Ammunition: 180 rounds per gun.
  • Number of weapon pylons: 7. Flat fuselage underside is suited to the carriage of long-range weapons, and has 3 "wet" stations (centreline and 2 outer). Dependent on the stores carried, all 3 may be used simultaneously. Each moving wing panel has inner and outer swivelling pylons; inner are "wet" and outer dedicated to ECM and chaff/flare pods. Twin or triple stores carriers can be fitted. Inner wing pylons have adapters for Sidewinders in addition to the main store.
  • Expendable weapons and equipment: Maximum payload of about 19,842 lb (9,000 kg) for both IDS and ECR. Extremely wide range of weapons, including all standard high-explosive bombs, cluster bombs, retarded and low—drag bombs, and laser-guided bombs; programme currently unden/vay in 1995 to integrate Paveway lll low-level LGB. WE177B tactical nuclear weapon used by RAF (until 1998). Practice bomb carriers. Alternative weapons include rocket pods, large weapon dispensers including JP233 and MW-1 for airfield attack and Matra Apache for stand-off attack, and various air-to-surface missiles including Maverick, anti-ship Kormoran and Sea Eagle, and ALARM and HARM for anti-radar. Future weapons will include the US JSOW. Sidewinders provide self defence. Typical configurations are: 8 x 1,000 lb bombs plus 2 Sidewinders, 2 ECM pods and 2 drop tanks; 2 JP-233 dispensers, 2 Sidewinders, 2 ECM pods and 2 tanks; 4 HARM missiles and 2 ECM pods; 2 Kormoran or Sea Eagle missiles and 2 tanks; MW-1, 2 AIM-9L Sidewinders, ECM pod, chaff/flare dispenser and 2 tanks; and 7 ALARM missiles, ECM pod, chaff/flare dispenser and 2 tanks.
  • Additional stores: Reconnaissance pod on centreline, equipped with wide-angle cameras and infra-red linescan, developed by MBB for German service; new pods being delivered for the Luftwaffe (see Aircraft variants). Buddy-buddy refuelling pod available on centreline. Thermal Imaging and Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) pod. RSAF lDSs have Thomson-CSF designator pod.[3]


  • Radar: Ground Mapping Radar (GMR) for blind navigation and targeting, and Terrain Following Radar (TFR) with auto-terrain following capability. Signals from the high resolution mapping radar and TF radar are processed in a shared LRU. Doppler radar for navigational use.
  • Flight/weapon system avionics/instrumentation: Principal to the avionics system is a 256 kilobyte Litef Spirit 3 digital main computer (being replaced on German and Italian lDSs by an 8 megabyte computer with Ada software), which handles the navigation, flight direction and terrain following, weapon aiming and delivery, computing, communications and defensive aids sub-systems. The sub-systems are interlinked with the GMR and TRF (see Radar), autopilot and flight director system (AFDS), digital inertial navigation system (INS), Tacan, Doppler radar, secondary altitude and heading reference system (SAHRS), air data computer, laser ranger/marked target seeker (LRMTS), ECM/ECCM, communications transmitters and receivers, lFF and lLS. Later production aircraft were also given MIL-STD-1553B (see German MLU under Aircraft variants) databus architecture, enlarged main computer memory, digital missile control unit, advanced displays, new stores management system, a solid state mission data transfer system, improved radar warning system and active ECM. On-board check-out and monitoring system (OCAMS). German ECR is equipped with FLIR, which will be introduced on the RAF's GR Mk 4 variant. Pilot's displays are HUD, head-down moving map, terrain-following E-scope and radar threat warning. Navigator's displays are centrally-located combined mapping radar and moving map display, with identical CRT display either side for navigation and mission planning. May also be used to display electro-optic sensor data (such as FLIR). "Two stick" trainer variants have port CRT display removed and flight instruments installed in the rear cockpit. See Mid-Life Updates under Aircraft variants.
  • Self-protection systems: Threat radar warning receivers are incorporated, forward and rearward antennae of which are mounted high on the fin leading and trailing edges. A mix of active ECM pods and chaff/flare pods is normal. RAF aircraft usually carry Sky Shadow ECM pod on the port outer wing pylon and BOZ-100 chaff/flare on the starboard wing. German aircraft carry CERBERUS ECM pod and BOZ pod. Italian aircraft are equipped with internally carried self protection jammer and may carry 2 BOZ pods. RAF has deployed an infra-red towed decoy.[3]


  • Wing characteristics: Variable-geometry outer wing panels. lnboard fixed highly swept "nibs" (gloves), housing the bodyside wing pivots. 2 spars and machined skin/ribs with integral stiffeners. Swivelling pylon spigots.
  • Wing control surfaces: Full-span, 43 segment, double-slotted trailing-edge flaperons. Full-span, 3-segment, leading-edge slats. 2-segment lateral control spoilers/lift dumpers at mid span ahead of the flaps. Krueger flaps on the "nib" leading-edges. Fixed “nib” has feather fairings to conform to wing contour change with sweep.
  • Tail control surfaces: Slab tailplane (tailerons), actuated symmetrically for pitch control and differentially for roll. Characteristically large area dictated by short tail arm when wings swept and need to trim effective wing flaps. Tall and large area fin with rudder, dictated by short "fin arm" when wings swept fully aft at supersonic speeds.
  • Airbrakes: Petal type, in shoulder position each side of the rear fuselage.
  • Flight control system: All electrical, triplexed fly-by‘ wire system, with electrical and mechanical back-up modes. Command Stability Augmentation System (CSAS) employs Manoeuvre Demand control and optimizes aircraft flying qualities regardless of speed, height and stores load. Also Gust Alleviation. In the event of multiple failure, mechanical back-up allows a "get home" capability. Spin Prevention and Incidence Limiting System (SPILS) prevents loss of control or spin entry at high incidence. autopilot and Flight Director System (AFDS).
  • Fuselage: Manufacture breakdown as: front fuselage, comprising cockpit aft of the rear pressure bulkhead to nose radome (accommodating radar, guns and nose undercarriage); centre fuselage with fuel tankage, intakes and inlet ducting, wing carry-through structure and undercarriage bays, dorsal fairing for services; rear fuselage comprising engine installation with bottom drop-out doors and fin and tailplane spigot mountings.
  • Construction materials: By weight, aluminium alloy (72%), titanium (17%), steel (6%) and non-metallics (5%). Titanium mainly in the wing carry-through structure incorporating wing pivots, which are Teflon coated, and the engine compartment.[4]


  • Engines: 2Turbo Union RB199 turbofans. APU.
  • Engine rating: 9,100 lbf (40.5 kN) dry, 10,000 lbf (71.2 kN) with afterburning in Mk 103 form for IDS, and 9,550 lbf (42.5 kN) dry and 16,700 lbf (74.3 kN) with afterburning for Mk 105 form for ECR.
  • Air intakes: Variable 2-dimensional, horizontal wedge type, with fixed first ramp and controlled second ramp and diffuser ramp beyond the throat bleed slot. Swept side walls. 2 auxiliary intake doors on the outer nacelle walls. Bodyside diverter.
  • Flight refuelling probe: Retractable (and removable) probe on the starboard side of the cockpit.[5]


  • Fuel system: 5,842 litres in fuselage bag tanks and integral wing tanks, except for RAF and RSAF aircraft which have additional fuel in the fin, making 6,393 litres. Optional drop tanks in 2 underfuselage and 2 wing positions, of 1,500 or 2,250 litre capacities; RAF aircraft can carry 2,250 litre tanks (but wing sweep restricted to 63°). Maximum external fuel weight 12,297 lb (5,850 kg).
  • Electrical system: 115/220 volt Ac 3-phase, 400 Hz constant frequency sub-system and a 28 volt DC sub-system. Power generated by 2 automatically controlled, brushless AC engine-driven generators integrated with a constant speed drive unit. Ni-cd battery for basic flight line servicing functions and APU starting. Emergency power system comprises a single shot battery, emergency hydraulic pump and emergency fuel pump, providing hydraulic power and/or fuel pressure following a double engine flame-out, double generator failure or a double transformer rectifier unit failure.
  • Hydraulic system: Fully duplicated, 4,000 psi system.
  • Braking system: Anti~skid wheel braking, supplemented by thrust reversal and lift dumping. Target type thrust reversers are deployable from a "pre-armed" condition following main wheel contact. Emergency arrester hook. Studies into a new main undercarriage and braking system are underway, to allow increased * take-off weight.
  • Oxygen system: 10 litre liquid oxygen converter. Each seat has an emergency supply.


781 production IDS/ECR aircraft ordered, of which 733 had been delivered by early 1995. Orders by Germany (air force 210 IDS and 35 ECR; navy 112), ltaly_ (99), Saudi Arabia (48, with further 48 for 1995-97 delivery), and UK (229). Some 40 German Navy maritime strike aircraft have been transferred to the Luftwaffe, and Italy has modified 16 |DSs into ECRs, as the prototype plus 15 more. The United Arab Emirates might lease up to 19 RAF GR Mk 1s, with new Hakim stand-off weapon capability.[5]



The initial RAF requirement was for 220 GR1 aircraft, with the type first entering service with the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) at RAF Cottesmore in 1980. In June 1982, the GR1 began to enter front line service by re-equipping IX Squadron at Honington.[6]



The first Italian prototype, aircraft P05, made it's initial flight at Turin, Italy on 5 December 1975, with the first production example for Italy following suit on 25 September 1981. Roll-out of the first Italian IDS conversion into an ECR test aircraft took place at Alenia's Caselle flight test centre on 17 March 1992.

Saudi ArabiaEdit

On 26 September 1985, the UK Government and HRH Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding, covering 48 IDS and 24 ADV Tornados, worth an estimated £5 billion (including support). This was followed on 26 March 1986 by the first flight of a Royal Saudi Air Force IDS.

Aircraft variantsEdit

  • GR Mk 1 is the basic RAF combat type, with "two stick" trainer variants. As described.
  • GR Mk 1A is the RAF reconnaissance version, retaining external stores capability and operational characteristics. Day and night, low-level, high speed, horizon to horizon coverage by 3 internal infra-red sensors with comprehensive video recording. Displaces guns and ammunition. This type is also used by the RSAF.
  • GR Mk lB is the RAF maritime attack variant, carrying 2 Sea Eagles on the outer fuselage pylons and with drop tanks on the inner wing pylons. 4 missiles are possible.
  • GR Mk 4/4A are the RAF's Mid-Life Update versions of the Mk 1/1A to provide covert operational capability. The programme will run from 1996-2002. FLIR sensor giving image on a wide-angle HUD. Night Vision Goggles compatible cockpit. New colour multi-function HDD for pilot. TlALD for autonomous target acquisition, designation and weapon guidance. GPS. New avionics integration system. 142 to be updated from 1/1 As.
  • German IDS as generally described previously. Luftwaffe force now includes ex-naval aircraft. Mid-Life Update is underway under (“Neue Avionsstruktur"), with improvements including a new 8-megabyte computer (see avionics) with Ada software, MIL-STD-1760 databus, integrated laser inertial navigation/GPS, FLIR, defensive aids computer, missile warner, improved radar warning system, and displays. To include a new reconnaissance role with a podded day/night sensor package with 2 optical cameras and infra-red line-scanner for 40 aircraft. The remaining Navy force is operated for missions against ship (with Kormoran missiles) and land targets, plus reconnaissance using pods.
  • Italian IDS force is being upgraded with the German lDSs.
  • ECR is the dedicated electronic combat and reconnaissance version. Suite of reconnaissance and EW equipment is housed in the front fuselage, displacing the guns and ammunition. Threat radar emitter located in the wing root, infra-red imaging linescan, ODIN operational data link (air-to-air and air-to-ground), FLIR and HARM missiles. 35 received by the Luftwaffe, and 16 produced for Italy as IDS conversions.[5]


  • Principal dimensions:
    • Wing span: 45 ft 7.5 ins (13.91 m) spread, 28 ft 2.5 ins (8.6 m) fully swept.
    • Maximum length: 54 ft 9.5 ins (16.7 m) with probe.
    • Maximum height 19 ft 6 ins (5.95 m).
  • Wings:
    • Area: 286.3 sq ft (26.6 ml’).
    • Aspect ratio: 7.274 spread.
    • Sweepback: 25° spread, 67° fully swept
  • Tail unit: Tailplane span: 22 ft 4 ins (6.81 m)
  • Undercarriage:
    • Type: Retractable, with twin steerable nosewheels.
    • Main wheel tyre size: 30 x 11.5-14.5.
    • Nose wheel tyre size: 18 x 5.5.
    • Wheel base: 20 ft 4 ins (6.2 m).
    • Wheel track: 10 ft 2 ins (3.1 m)
  • Weights:
    • Empty: 30,864-31,967 lb (14,000-14,500 kg).
    • Maximum take-off: 61,729 lb (28,000 kg).
  • Performance:
    • Maximum operating Mach number (Mano): Mach 2.2 clean, Mach 1.8 with stores.
    • Maximum speed: 800 kts (921 mph) 1,482 km/h lAS.
    • Take-off distance: 1,510 ft (460 m), or under 1,970 ft (600 m) with heavy weapon load.
    • Landing distance: less than 1,640 ft (500 m).
    • G limits: +7.8, -1.5.
    • Ceiling: above 50,000 ft (15,240 m).
    • Radius of action (interdiction, Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo, with 4 x 1,000 lb bombs, 2 Sidewinders and 2 drop tanks): 600 naut miles (691 miles) 1,111 km.
    • Radius of action (interdiction, Hi-Lo-Lo-Hi, with 4 x 1,000 lb bombs, 2 Sidewinders and 2 drop tanks): 800 naut miles (921 miles) 1,482 km.
    • Radius of action (maritime attack, Hi-Lo-Lo-Hi): over 700 naut miles (806 miles) 1,296 km.
    • Ferry range: 2,050 naut miles (2,360 miles) 3,797 km.[3]


  1. Royal Air Force
  2. World Aircraft & Systems Directory - First Edition. Brassey's (UK) Ltd. 1996. ISBN 1 85753 198 1 Page 165
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 World Aircraft & Systems Directory - First Edition. Page 166
  4. World Aircraft & Systems Directory - First Edition. Pages 166-167
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 World Aircraft & Systems Directory - First Edition. Pages 167
  6. Crosby, Francis. The World Encyclopedia of Bombers. Anness Publishing Ltd. 2013. ISBN 1 78019 205 3 Page 232