Search this Site

Panavia Tornado

The Panavia Tornado was the result of the joint effort of the UK, Germany, and Italy. A multirole fighter, the Tornado has three primary versions, the Tornado IDS fighter bomber, the Tornado ECR electronic warfare fighter (suppresses enemy air defenses), and the Tornado ADV interceptor. In total, 992 Tornadoes were built for the RAF, the Luftwaffe, Italian Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Force.


The Tornado was intended as a low-level supersonic bomber that can operate in high and low speeds. However, planes that are maneuverable in high speeds tend to have poor low-speed performance and vice versa. To counter this dilemma, Panavia decided that a variable wing sweep design will be the ideal feature for the plane. The variable wing sweep design works like this: the wings of the plane go fully swept when the plane is flying at high speeds and return to its original position in slower speeds. This fulfills the requirement that the Tornado performs well in high and low speeds.
The Tornado is also designed to operate on short runways. Since it is a land-based aircraft that has to operate on large airfields that are vulnerable to air attack, the Tornado is required to be able to land and takeoff in short distances. This criteria is fulfilled with the Tornado's variable wing sweep design, which when extended fully forward, creates enough lift to lower the minimum landing and takeoff speeds, thus allowing the Panavia Tornado to operate on short runways.

  1. Tornado IDS
  • The Tornado IDS variants were the strike aircraft version of the Tornado. This variant was designed for ultra-low-level penetration strikes of Warsaw Pact targets and is equipped with a terrain following radar that allowed hands-off all weather low-level flight. Additionally, it is equipped with a Laser Range Finder and Marked Target Seeker (LRMTS) for improved bombing accuracy. The LRMTS can also receive reflected laser energy from a third party laser, which allows the bomber to lock on targets laser-marked by other friendly units.
  • The Tornado IDS has 4 different versions, the GR1, GR1B, GR4, and GR1A/GR4A.
  1. Tornado ECR
  • The Tornado ECR is what you would call a "Wild Weasel", which is an aircraft that takes out enemy surface-to-air defenses and their radars, basically all enemy electronics used to detect friendly planes. This version is equipped with the emitter-locator system (ELS) which locates enemy radar positions and armed with the AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) to take the radars out.
  • The performance is similar to the Tornado IDS.
  1. Tornado ADV

  • The Tornado ADV is the fighter version of the Tornado. It has a greater sweep angle on the inboard fixed winged sections for greater performance in different speeds. The ADV also has an extended radome to fit the Marconi Ferranti Al.24 Foxhunter airborne interception radar. The fuselage is stretched by 1.36m to accommodate the four Skyflash semi-active radar homing missiles and a plug has been added immediately aft of the fuselage with the added benefits of reducing drag and making space for an extra fuel tank. Finally, the port (left) cannon has been removed.
  • The ADV has two versions, the F2 and F3.

General characteristics (Panavia Tornado F3)

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 18.7 m (61.3 ft)
  • Wingspan: (Variable geometry wing)
    • At 25° wing position : 13.91 m (45.6 ft)
    • At 67° wing position: 8.60 m (28.2 ft)
  • Height: 5.95 m (19.5 ft)
  • Wing area: 26.6 m² (286 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 14,500 kg (32,000 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 21,546 kg (47,500 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 28,000 kg (61,700 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2× Turbo-Union RB199-34R Augmented Turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 40.5 kN (9,104 lbf) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 73 kN (16,410 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: 800 knots IAS (1,452 mph, Mach 2.27, 2,338 km/h)
  • Range: 755 nmi (869 mi, 1,390 km)
  • Ferry range: 2,300 nmi (2,650 mi, 4,265 km) with four external tanks
  • Service ceiling: 15,240 m (50,000 ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.56


  • Guns: 1× internal Mauser BK-27 with 180 rounds (versus 2× BK-27 mounted on Panavia Tornado IDS)
  • Hardpoints: 10 total (4× semi-recessed under-fuselage, 2× under-fuselage, 4× swivelling under-wing) holding up to 9000 kg (19,800 lb) of payload, the two inner wing pylons have shoulder launch rails for 2× Short-Range AAM (SRAAM) each
  • Rockets: None
  • Missiles:
    • Air-to-air missiles:
      • 4× AIM-9 Sidewinder or AIM-132 ASRAAM
      • 4× British Aerospace Skyflash or AIM-120 AMRAAM (mounted on 4 semi-recessed under-fuselage hardpoints)
  • Bombs: None
  • Others:
    • Up to 2× drop tanks for extended range/loitering time. Up to 4 drop tanks for ferry role (at the expense of 4 Skyflash/AMRAAM).


  • Marconi/Ferranti AI.24 Foxhunter radar


Anonymous said...


Centennial College said...


excellent post. with excellent information. I am a student of aviation school and your information is very useful because i have just joined an Aviation Program

Anonymous said...

Humm, looks like a crop duster to me!