Panavia Tornado IDS

Aircraft Profile

Key Facts

Main Role:
All-weather supersonic tactical strike aircraft
Variable-geometry jet
Current Status:
In Service, Out of Production

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Panavia Tornado GR.1 ZD966/I of 2 Sqn. RAF 1993.


From conception to operational service took twelve years, but what was remarkable
about this was that the Tornado and all its systems were delivered on time and on

The Tornado was originally designed to fulfill six different roles. After the Tornado went into service another role was defined; defense suppression, Italy and Germany procured the purpose built Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) version. This type is armed with the High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). The six original roles were:
1. Interdiction Strike.
2. Counter Air Strike
3. Battlefield Interdiction
4. Close Air Support
5. Reconnaissance
6. Interception

This last role was not taken up but the RAF went one step further and developed the Air Defense Variant (ADV) now called the Tornado F.3.

The Tornado is the RAF’s first variable-geometry aircraft. Built by a consortium from Britain, Germany and Italy known as Panavia with its head quarters in Munich, Germany.

The first British assembled aircraft flew from Warton in Lancashire on 30 October 1974. The first production GR1 flew on 10 July 1979. A total of 228 GR1’s were built for the RAF, 36 of these were dual control and designated GR1(T).
The three countries that contributed to the project manufactured different sections of the aircraft. Britain made the nose and rear fuselage; Italy made the wings and Germany the centre fuselage. The Rolls Royce designed engines were built by Turbo-Union; these were the RB-199 turbofans.

Originally the MRCA (Multi Role Combat Aircraft) as it was known was to be a NATO aircraft, with countries such as Canada, Belgium and The Netherlands expected to contribute, but these countries elected to go for US built, cheaper, single seaters instead.
The RAF first employed the Tornado at the TTTE (Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment) at Cottesmore in July 1980. As its name suggests this unit was to train aircrew from all three nations to use both the aircraft and its systems. This unit was followed in August 1981 by the TWCU (Tactical Weapons Conversion Unit) based at Honiton.
The Tornado superseded the Buccaneer, Jaguar and Vulcan in the bomber and maritime strike roles. A vast amount of weaponry can be carried by the Tornado including 500-Kiloton nuclear bombs, BL755 cluster bombs, 1,000 lb. HE bombs, laser-guided bombs and anti-radiation missiles.

Tornadoes are currently being converted to GR.4 standard; this will include new equipment such at TIALD, FLIR and a new navigational sub-system.


Requirement Specification: ?
Manufacturers Designation: ?

Development History:
MRCA Original designation for Tornado programme, meaning Multi-Role Combat Aircraft.
Tornado prototypes Initial development batch of 9 aircraft.
Tornado pre-series Follow-on development batch of 6 aircraft.
Tornado IDS Generic term for ‘bomber’ version. IDS = Interdictor/Strike.
Tornado ADV Generic term for dedicated interceptor fighter version. Described separately.
Tornado GR.Mk 1 Standard strike version of the Tornado IDS for the RAF. Features additional fin fuel tank and laser rangefinder in undernose fairing.
Tornado GR.Mk 1(T) Version of the Tornado GR.1 with full flying controls in both cockpits for pilot training. 50 a/c + 1 pre-series refurbished.
Tornado GR.Mk 1A Dedicated reconnaissance version of GR.1. Includes Vinten 4000 infra-red linescan video system in blister fairing below the aircraft nose. 14 a/c new build + 16 conversions.
Tornado GR.Mk 1B Dedicated anti-shiping version of GR.1. Equipped to launch Sea Eagle missiles and carry ‘buddy’ in-flight refuelling pods.
Tornado GR.Mk 4 Mid-Life Update for GR.1 with upgraded avionics and cockpit systems.
Tornado GR.Mk 4A Mid-Life Update applied to GR.1A version.
Tornado GR.4B Mid-Life Update applied to GR.1B version.
Tornado IDS Germany Version of Tornado IDS for Germany. Features different weapons ejector racks and weapons fit. 212 a/c for Luftwaffe (including 2 refurbished pre-series and 50 dual control). 112 a/c for Navy.
Tornado IDS Italy Version of Tornado IDS for the Italian Air Force. Very similar to German version. 100 a/c (including 1 refurbished pre-series and 12 dual-control).
Tornado IDS Saudi Export version of Tornado IDS for the Royal Saudi Air Force. Very similar to RAF GR.1 version. 96 a/c (including 14 dual-control aircraft and 6 reconnaissance versions similar to GR.1A).
Tornado ECR Version of Tornado IDS dedicated to reconnaissance and enemy air defence suppression. ECR = Electronic Combat and Reconnaissance. Only Tornados with RB.199 Mk 105 engines. 35 a/c new-build for Germany, 16 a/c conversions for Italy.


Key Dates:
1968    Initial design studies for a Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) initiated
26 March 1969    Panavia consortium formed to handle multi-government contractual aspects.
1 June 1969    Turbo Union Ltd consortium formed to design, develop and produce the MRCA engine.
14th August 1974    First flight in Germany of MRCA first prototype (P01).
30 October 1974    First flight of first British assembled aircraft (P02 XX946)
5 December 1975    First flight of first Italian assembled aircraft (P05)
5 February 1977    First flight of first pre-series aircraft (P11)
10 July 1979    First flight of initial production GR.Mk1 (ZA319).
July 1980    Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) formed at RAF Cottesmore.
August 1981    TWCU formed at Honiton
6 January 1982    9 Squadron RAF took delivery of its first aircraft (ZA586).
1983    First deliveries of Italian aircraft.
1986    First deliveries of Saudi aircraft.
18 August 1988    First flight of converted Tornado ECR prototype.
21 May 1990    First Tornado ECR delivered to the Luftwaffe.
February 1991    First use of Tornado in combat, during the Gulf War
29 May 1993    First flight of GR.4 development aircraft (P15)
1993    Delivery of last production Tornado aircraft (F.Mk 3).
31 October 1997    Delivery of first upgraded GR.4 aircraft to the RAF.
Luftwaffe Tornado ECR 46+38 of JBG 32 seen
in 1991. (photo, Anthony Noble)
Another JBG 32 aircraft seen in 1991, Tornado
IDS 44+53. (photo, Anthony Noble)


Military Operators

UK – Royal Air Force (11 Sqns + 1 test unit + TTTE)
Italy – Aeronautica Militare Italia (3 Wings + test unit)
Germany – Luftwaffe (6 Wings + test unit)
Germany – Marineflieger (2 Wings, one later disbanded)
Saudi Arabia – Royal Saudi Air Force (2 Sqns.)

Government Agencies

UK – A&AEE (later DERA) (1 test unit)
UK – DERA (late Qinetiq) (1 test unit)

Civilian Operators



Panavia Tornado GR.1
Crew: Two
Dimensions: Length 54 ft 10.25 in (16.72 m); Height 19 ft 6.25 in (5.95 m); Wing Span 45 ft 7.5 in (13.91 m) fully extended (25 degrees sweep), 28 ft 2.5 in (8.60 m) fully swept (67 degrees sweep); Wing Area 286.33 sq ft (26.60 sq m)
Engines: Early aircraft: Two Turbo-Union RB.199-34R Mk.101 turbofans each rated at 8,475 lb st (37.70 kN) dry and 14,840 lb st (66.01 kN) with afterburning; Later aircraft: Two Turbo-Union RB.199-34R Mk.103 turbofans each rated at 8,650 lb st (38.48 kN) dry and 16,075 lb st (71.50 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty Equipped 31,065 lb (14,091 kg); Normal Take-off 45,000 lb (20,411 kg); Maximum Take-off 61,620 lb (27,951 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ 1,262 kts (1,453 mph, 2338 kph) at 36,000 ft (10975 m), 616 kts (710 mph, 1142 kph) at sea level; Climb to 30,000 ft (9145 m) less than 2 mins 0 secs; Service ceiling 50,000+ ft (15,240 m); Ferry range with four drop tanks 2,100+ nm (2,420 mls, 3,890 km); Combat radius 750 nm (863 mls, 1390 km) on a typical attack mission
Armament: Two 27mm Mauser cannon with 180 rounds per gun plus a warload of 19,841 lb (9,000 kg) on three fuselage and four underwing hardpoints. These weapons may include one 500 kts nuclear weapon, eight 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs, two airfield/runway denial weapons with multiple munitions, Paveway laser-guided bombs, two AIM-9 Sidewinder SRAAMs or up to seven ALARMs. Additionally the GR.1B carries two Sea Eagle missiles.


Design Centre

Head of Design Team: ?
Prime Contractor: Panavia Aircraft GmbH, Germany*
(*Workshare is split 42.5% BAe (UK), 42.5% DASA (Germany), 15% Alenia (Italy)
Design Office: Collaboration of the three partner companies


Production summary: (excludes prototypes & pre-series)

Customer IDS ECR Total
Germany 322 35 357
Italy 99 16* 99
Saudi Arabia 96 0 96
UK 228 0 228
Total 745 35 780

* Conversions

British Aerospace (BAe)
(Warton Aerodrome, Preston, Lancashire, PR4 1AX, UK. Later BAE SYSTEMS)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Tornado prototypes 4 Warton March 1973-1976
Tornado pre-series 3* Warton 1976-1978
Tornado GR.1 228 Warton 1978-1985
Tornado GR.1A 16** Warton 1985-1989
Tornado GR.1A 14 Warton 1989-1993
Tornado IDS Saudi 48 Warton 1986-1993
Tornado IDS Saudi 48 Warton 1993-1999
Tornado GR.4/4A 142** Warton 1997-2002
Total: 345    

* 1 a/c later refurbished to full production standard.
** Conversion, not new-build.

(MBB, Manching, Germany. Later DASA/Daimler-Chrysler Aerospace/EADS-Germany)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Tornado prototypes 4 Manching 1974-1977
Tornado pre-series 2* Manching 1977-1978
Tornado IDS 322 Manching 1979-1990
Tornado ECR 35 Manching 1990-Jan 1992
Total: 363    

* Later refurbished to full production standard.

(Alenia, Turin, Italy. Initially Aeritalia-Fiat.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Tornado prototypes 1 Turin 1975-1975
Tornado pre-series 1 Turin 1977-1978
Tornado IDS 99 Turin 1981-1990
Tornado ECR 16** Turin 1992-1994
Total: 101    

** Conversion, not new-build.

Total Produced: 992 a/c (All variants)

Production List

Panavia Tornado

More Information


‘Panavia Tornado’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Andy Evans
Published by The Crowood Press, 24 May 1999 ISBN: 1 86126 201 9
* Good detailed history of the Tornado.

‘Panavia Tornado in Action’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Squadron/Signal Publications, 23 May 1991 ISBN: 0 89747 234 9
* Good pictorial coverage.

‘Tornado’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Ian Rentoul & Tom Wakeford
Published by Concord Publications, July 1996 ISBN: 9 62361 727 5
* Pictorial history of the Tornado.

‘Tornado: Multi-Role Combat Aircraft’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Jon Lake & Micheal Crutch
Published by Midland Publishing, April 2000 ISBN: 1 85780 096 6
* Comprehensive up-to-date history of the Tornado.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 3’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1990 ISBN: 1 87402 3042
* Includes ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the Tornado.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 30’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1997 ISBN: 1 86184 004 7
* Includes ‘Variant Briefing’ feature on the Tornado IDS.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 32’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, May 1998 ISBN: 1 86184 011 X
* Includes ‘Operators’ feature on the Tornado.


To be added.


The RAF in the 1991 Gulf War
(Two pages of RAF Tornado photos taken during the first Gulf War)

Air Force Technology – Tornado
(Tornado variant technology data)

MRCA Tornado Walkaround
(Close-up detail photos)
(23 pages of excellent Tornado IDS photos)
(9 pages of Tornado IDS photos)

Panavia Tornado
(History, production, service, bases, in detail, links)

Panavia Tornado Homepage
(Variants, specs, photos, links etc)

Panavia Tornado IDS
(Detail close-up photos of a Marineflieger Tornado IDS)

Military Aviation Photo Gallery: Panavia
(Good selection of Tornado photos)


Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
‘Panavia Tornado IDS, ECR, GR Mk. 1, GR Mk. 4 (HT Model Special)’
by Marcus Fülber, Peter Novorol’nik, and Jozef And’al
Published by HT Model, Slovakia, 2004 ISSN: 1335-3667
* Highly illustrated modellers guide including scale drawings.

‘Panavia Tornado (Biblioteka Magazynu 3)’
by J. Gruszczynski and E.F. Rybak
Published by Lotnictwo Wojskowe, Poland, 2004 ISBN: ?
* Polish-text modellers guide including scale drawings.


‘Panavia Tornado’ [Order this video from Amazon UK]
June 1999, Catalogue Number: CHV2049
* Modern documentary on the Tornado.

‘Modern Combat Aircraft 13 – Tornado’ [Order this video from Amazon UK]
Command Vision, March 1991, Catalogue Number: BAV078
* Another documentary on the Tornado.

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