Panavia Tornado General
Panavia Tornado
Modern Combat Fighter
Unit Cost
Main Operator
Royal Air Force
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Panavia Tornado Program Milestones
Maiden Flight
August 14, 1974
Production Start
Late 1970's
First User
Member Countries

Panavia Tornado Aircraft Dimensions
Wing Span ( 25° wing sweep)
45.6 feet (13.91 m)
Wing Span ( 67 ° wing sweep)
28.2 feet (8.60 m)
54 feet 10 inch (16.72 m)
19.5 feet (5.95 m)
Wing Area
286 square feet

German Air Force Panavia Tornado
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Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado

Panavia Tornado Weights
Empty Weight
31,620 lb (13,890 kg)
Maximum Take-off Weight
61,700 lb (28,000 kg)

Panavia Tornado Powerplants
2 x Turbo-Union RB199-34R
17,270 lbf

Panavia Tornado Radius & Performance
870 nautical miles
Ferry Radius
2,420 nautical miles
Service Ceiling
50,000 feet (15+ km)
Maximum Speed
Mach 2.34 (1,511 mph)
Maximum Rate of Climb
15,100 ft/min
Thrust to Weight
Wing Loading
65 lb/square feet

To be announced later...

Panavia Tornado
The Panavia Tornado is a joint development by the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy and is available as a family of twin-engine combat aircraft. Basically there are three primary versions of the Tornado and consist of; the Tornado IDS (Interdictor/Strike) fighter-bomber, the suppression of enemy air defences Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat/Reconnaissance) and the Tornado ADV (Air Defence Variant) interceptor. The Panavia Tornado is in operation with several air forces and is in fact the most sophisticated interdiction and attack aircraft in the with world today, with a large payload, long range and high survivability.

The Tornado is built, obviously, by Panavia, a tri-national consortium formed by British Aerospace (then the British Aircraft Corporation), MBB of Germany, and Alenia Aeronautica of Italy. The first Tornado took-off on August 14, 1974, and was put into action during the Gulf War in service with the RAF and AMI. In total there have been 992 aircraft build for four nations including the three partners and Saudi Arabia.

Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado
Saudi Arabian Air Force Panavia Tornado
UK Air Force Panavia Tornado
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Panavia Tornado Design

Originally, the Tornada was designed as a low-level supersonic ground attack bomber, which was capable of taking off and landing in short distances. In order to achieve this, the aircraft required good high-speed and low-speed flying characteristics which in general can be seen a some sort of contradiction as high speed aircraft usually have poor low-speed characteristics. In order to achieve the desired high-speed performance, aircraft are generally fitted with a highly swept or "delta" wing platform. However, these wing designs are very inefficient at low speeds were unswept wing planforms are required. In order for an aircraft to be operated efficiently on both sides of the speed envelope, variable wing sweep is a desirable feature, which was incorporated into the Tornado design.

In high speed low-level configuration, the Tornado's wings are being swept back which results in an decrease of drag. When the wings are being swept, they partially slide into the fuselage, reducing the exposed wing area. It gives the aircraft a low gust response in turbulent low-level winds. This both increases flight comfort and makes the aircraft a more stable platform from which to aim and deliver unguided weapons at low-level.
UK Air Force Panavia Tornado

Basically, the aircraft was designed to be land-based and operate from large airfields that were considered to be vulnerable to aerial attack. Because of this, short field landing capability was considered during the development of the Tornado, in order to enable it to operate from short strips on potentially damaged runways and taxiways. With the wings swept fully forward, the Tornado IDS generates greater lift because of the increased exposed wing area an the utility of full-span flaps and slats. This gives the aircraft greater lift at lower speeds while reducing minimum landing speed required and therefore shorter landing distances. Generaly speaking, if the pilot needs to fly at low speed, the wings are being swept forward (through selection lever) in order to maximise lift, and when the need for high-speed travel arises, the wings are swept further back. In fact, the Tornado GR4 flies at one of three levels of wing sweep; 25, 45 or 67 degrees of sweep. There is a corresponding speed range that is appropriate for each level of wing sweep.

Tornado Variants

RAF Panavia Tornado GR1
The Royal Air Force Tornado GR1 was the first generation version of the Panavia Tornado strike aircraft in use by the UK Air Force. The first aircraft was delivered on June 5, 1979 and entered service in the early 1980s. From 1997 to 2002, 142 aircraft were upgraded to GR4 standard since by this time the GR1 designation was abandoned.
RAF Panavia Tornado GR1B
The Tornado GR1B was a variant of the Tornado GR1 series that was specialised in anti-shipping. Based in Scotland at RAF Lossiemouth, these aircraft replaced the Blackburn Buccaneer in the anti-shipping role, delivering the Sea Eagle anti-ship missile. Since it did not have the ability to track shipping with its radar, the aircraft relied on the missile's seeker for target acquisition.
RAF Panavia Tornado GR4
In early 1984, the UK Ministry of Defence began detailed studies into a Mid-Life Update (MLU) of the Tornado to rectify shortcomings of the GR1. The update would improve capability in the medium level role while maintaining the Tornado's exceptional low-level penetration capability and was designated the GR4. Although studies began in 1984, the upgrade was not approved until 1994, after it had been revised to include lessons learned from the GR1's performance during the Gulf War. A major change in the Tornado design was the move from low level penetration to medium level attacks, while maintaining the low level capability. Work on the airframe begun in 1996 and was finished in 2003.
RAF Panavia Tornado GR1A/GR4A
The GR1A was a reconnaissane variant of the RAF IDS. With the upgrade of the GR1 to GR4 standards, similarly the GR1A became the GR4A. The aircraft is equipped with an TIRRS (Tornado Infra-Red Reconnaissance System), one on each side of the fuselage and a single IRLS (Infra-Red LineScan) reconnaissance sensor mounted on the underside of the fuselage. This sensor package replaced the 27 mm cannon. In total, the RAF ordered 30 airframes, either as rebuilds of GR1's or as new aircraft.
Luftwaffe IDS
The German Air Force received a total of 212 Tornado IDSs. Major changes were announced on January 13, 2004 regarding the armed forces. A major part of the plans were the reduction of Tornado's in the fleet from 426 in early 2004 to 265 by 2015. Assuming the full German order for 180 Eurofighter Typhoons is fulfilled, this will the Tornado force reduced to 85.
Marineflieger IDS
The German Navy's air wing received a total of 112 Tornado IDSs with the last disbanded in late 2004. The maritime combat role has been assumed by the Luftwaffe which has upgraded a unit of its Tornados to carry the Kormoran II and AGM-88 HARM missiles.
Aeronautica Militare IDS
In total the Italian Air Force received 100 Tornado IDSs. As of July 2004 only 57 were stil operational. In July 2002 Italy signed a contract with NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) and the Panavia partner companies for the initial upgrade of 18 IDSs. The first of these upgrades was finished by November 2003 and includes a modernised avionics suite, new digital radios, a SATCOM capability and new weapons capabilities for the carriage of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, Raytheon Enhanced Paveway III laser guided bombs and the MBDA Storm Shadow.
Panavia Tornado ECR
The Tornado ECR is operated by both the German and Italian Air Force and is an IDS variant devoted to SEAD missions. The first airframe was delivered on May 21, 1990. The ECR is equipped with an emitter-locator system (ELS) which is designed to locate enemy radar sites. The ECR is equipped with the AGM-88 HARM. Although the German Air Force bought 35 new ECRs, the Italian Air Force received 16 converted IDSs.