The Tornado was developed and built by Panavia Aircraft GmbH which was a joint venture between British Aerospace, MBB and Aeritalia.
The first prototype was flown on the 14th of August 1974 by pilot Paul Millett who was delighted with the handling of the aircraft.
Minor modifications were made to reduce airflow disturbance by reshaping the air intakes and fuselage to minimise buffeting at supersonic speeds.
During landing, reverse thrust was used which tended to cause the aircraft to become unstable and oscillate. To counteract this, the nose wheel was fitted with a steering system connected with a yaw damper.
The Tornado made use of fly-by-wire (FBW) technology to stabilise the aircraft in flight. The FBW technology was developed with the use of a modified Sepecat Jaguar and a converted Lockheed F-104G Starfighter, both of which had a digital flight control system.
The first Tornado was delivered to the Royal Air Force and Luftwaffe on the 5th and 6th of June respectively with the first Italian Tornado being delivered on the 25th of September 1981.
The Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE), which was based at RAF Cottesmore, opened on the 29th of January 1981 training all operating nations until the 31st of March 1999.
Production of the Tornado came to an end in 1998 with the last batch of 96 being produced for the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The Tornado carried the majority of air launched weapons in NATO's arsenal including unguided and laser guided bombs, anti-ship, anti-radiation missiles, anti-personnel mines and anti-runway munitions.
The Tornado is also equipped with onboard countermeasures such as Flares, Chaff. Underwing fuel tanks and a 'buddy store' aerial refuelling system was also available to extend the aircrafts range.
Over the years the Tornado was adapted to enable it to deploy improved weapons such as Paveway and Joint Attack Munition bombs and cruise missiles which replaced older weapons such as cluster bombs.
The Strike variants of the Tornado have limited air-to-air capability with AIM-9 Sidewinder or AIM-132 ASRAAM missiles.
The Tornado is also armed with two 27mm Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon which are mounted internally under the fuselage.
The Tornado is also capable of deploying air-launched nuclear weapons with several Squadrons based in Germany equipped with WE.177 nuclear bomb, which was retired in 1988. The German and Italian Tornados were capable of deploying US B61 nuclear bombs.
|Specifications (GR1): -|
|Crew:||2 in tandem|
|Length:||54ft 10in (16.72m)|
|Wingspan:||45ft 8in (13.91m)|
|Height:||19ft 6in (5.95m)|
|Empty Weight:||30,620lb (13890kg)|
|Max. Weight:||61,620lb (27950kg)|
producing 32150 lb st.
|Max. Speed:||921 mph (1482 km/h)|
|Range:||2,431 miles (3890 km)|
|Armament (Non specific): -|
|Cannon:||1 x 27mm Mauser BK-27|
|Hardpoints:||4 x light duty|
3 x heavy duty
4 x underwing plyons
AIM-9 Sidewinder or
6 x AGM-65 Maverick or
12 x Brimstone or
2 x Storm Shadow
9 x ALARM
|Bombs:||5 x 500lb Paveway IV or|
3 x 1000lb Paveway II or
2 x 2000lb Paveway III or
BL755 cluster or
2 x JP233 munition dispensers
4 x B61 or WE.177 nuclear
|Avionics:||Raptor reconn. pod|
Rafael Litening targeting pod
TIALD laser designator
Sky Shadow ECM pod
Variant issued to the Royal Air Force, 228 built.
Anti-shipping variant of GR1 for the Royal Air Force, 26 converted.
Modified GR1 based upon experience of the Gulf War, 142 upgraded.
Reconnaissance variant for the RAF and RSAF.
Variant to Suppression of Enemy Air Defences operated by Germany and Italy.
Interceptor variant for the RAF designated F2 or F3.
The Panavia Tornado is a multi-role twin engined aircraft designed for low-level enemy penetration.
Due to its multi-role the Tornado has variable wing geometry of 'swing wing' capability and a retractable refuelling probe for long range bombing missions.
Photographed above, a pair of Tornado GR4's displaying at the Cotswold Airshow, Kemble in 2008.