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Tornado GR-1/1B/4
                                      

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Tornado GR-1/1B/4

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The mainstay of the strike/attack force is the Tornado GR1. Designed and built as a collaborative project in the UK, Germany and Italy, the TornaTornado GR1 3-angle viewdo programme was initiated in 1968 and known as Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA). A new tri-national company, Panavia, was set up in Germany to build the aircraft. The first prototype flew on 14 August 1974 and initial orders from the three partner countries totalled 640 aircraft, with the work share divided in relation to the number of aircraft ordered; UK and Germany 42.5% each and Italy 15%. The initial RAF requirement was for 220 aircraft, and the first of these was delivered to the new Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) at RAF Cottesmore in July 1980. The first front-line squadron to re-equip with Tornado was IX Squadron at Honington (previously a Vulcan unit) from June 1982.

Designed from the outset as a low-level supersonic aircraft, Tornado is capable of carrying a wide range of conventional stores, including the Air-Launched Anti-Radar Missile (ALARM), Paveway II and III laser-guided bombs (LGBs). Future plans include carriage of the new Storm Shadow long-range stand-off missile and the Brimstone anti-armour missile system. During the Gulf War of 1991, 5 Tornados were modified to carry the new Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) pod with great success. Modifications to a number of aircraft were carried out to produce the GR1B variant optimised for maritime strike missions with the Sea Eagle anti-shipping missile and in 1993-94, Nos. 12, 14 and 617 Squadrons relocated to Lossiemouth to replace the Buccaneers in this role. For self-defence, the Tornado carries Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and is fitted with twin internal 27mm cannons.

A dedicated reconnaissance version, the GR1A, is also in RAF service, and this is described separately. Many GR1s and GR1Bs are scheduled to undergo a mid-life update programme, and this will see updates to many internal sytems and defensive aids and extend the service-life of the Tornado for some 15 years or so, until replaced by the Future Offensive Air System (FOAS) due in 2015. These updated aircraft are designated GR4s.


Technical Specs:

Powerplant: Two afterburning Turbo Union RB199-103 turbofans of 15,800lb st.

Span: 45ft 7.25in (13.90m) - wings fully spread; 28ft 2.5in (8.59m) - 68 sweep

Length: 54ft 9.5in (16.70m)

Max Speed: 1,452mph (2,336km/h) at 36,000ft (11,000m)

Accommodation: Pilot and navigator in tandem seating

Armament: Two IWKA-Mauser 27mm cannon (one on the GR4) and up to 18,000lb of ordnance.

Recognition: Short fat fuselage with a very large swept fin and rudder. Shoulder-mounted variable geometry wings of delta shape when fully swept. Bubble two-seat tandem cockpit and a short nose cone. All moving tailplane on the sides of the twin tailpipes. Virtually the only means of distinguishing a GR1 and GR4 is the addition of a second under-chin pod on the updated aircraft.

 

Tornado GR1 3-Angle view

Tornado GR1 Cutaway. Courtesy of BAE Systems.

Tornado GR1 Cutaway.

Source: http://www.raf.mod.uk

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