Tornado GR4 Technical Specifications
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Strike / Ground attack aircraft
2 x Turbo-Union RB199-34R Mk 103 Turbofans, 9100lb (8650lb for RAF) dry and 16,075lb with afterburner.
Maximum Speed: mach 2.2 (1.3 for RAF)
Maximum Speed with external stores: mach 0.92
1,452mph (2,336km/h) at 36,000ft (11,000m)
Combat radius
hi-lo-lo-hi: 750nm (1390km)
Ferry range
2100nm (3890km)
Empty 30,620lb (13,890kg)
Maximum takeoff 61,620lb (27,950kg)
Span - Wings Extended 13.91m (45ft 8in) 68 sweep
Span - Wings Swept 8.6m (28ft 3in)
Tailplane - Span 6.80m (22ft 3.5in)
Wing area
(25deg) 26.6 sq.m (286.3sq. ft)
16.72m (54ft 10in)
5.95m (19ft 6in)
Wheel Track - 3.10m (10ft 2in)
Wheel Base - 6.20m (20ft 4in)
2 Crew - Pilot and Navigator/Weapons Systems Officer.
Armament (fixed)
One IWKA Mauser 27mm cannon.
Armament (disposable)
19,840lb on three underfuslage and four underwing hardpoints, including AIM9's, iron bombs, laser guided bombs, ALARM and HARM anti-radation missiles, WE177B and B61 nuclear weapons, JP 233 and MW-1 area denial weapon dispensers, Sea Sagle and Kormoran AShM'
Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia UK.


Background Information

The Tornado resulted from a feasibility study conducted in the late 1960's by Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the UK. Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands later withdrew from the program. Formal development began in 1970 with the first prototype flying in August 1974, with production beginning in 1980. The Tornado was ultimately selected to meet the UK requirement for an air defence fighter in 1971, it first flew in October 1979, with the first production aircraft flying in March 1984. In comparison with the Tornado F3 the Tornado GR4 features a 4ft 6in fuselage stretch, the GEC-Marconi AI.24 Foxhunter radar and an increase in internal fuel capacity to 7143 litters. The final new build Tornado was built in 1998 for Saudi Arabia, with all work now focusing on the various upgrades being conducted.

The mainstay of the strike/attack force is the Tornado GR4. Designed and built as a collaborative project in the UK, Germany and Italy, the Tornado 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 (B) Squadron at Honington (previously a Vulcan unit) from June 1982 and now stationed at RAF Marham.

Designed from the outset as a low-level supersonic aircraft, the 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. Tornado squadrons at RAF Bruggen were the last RAF flying units to leave Germany when the station was handed back to the host nation into mid-2001. Nos 9 and 31 Squadrons moved to RAF Marham, Norfolk, and No 14 Squadron to Lossiemouth in Scotland.

A dedicated reconnaissance version, the GR4A, is also in RAF service. Many GR1s and GR1Bs are undergoing a mid-life update programme, and this will see updates to many internal systems 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.


A 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. The easiest way to differentiate between GR4 and F3 (fighter) is the shape of the nose. The GR4 is much blunter, less streamlined and glossy black in colour. The F3 is also longer and appears to be better proportioned.

Colours: All-over tactical grey with black, unpainted radome. Some pre-update aircraft still in old grey/green camouflage. Squadron markings carried on the forward fuselage under the cockpit and on tail sensor fairing. Two-letter codes also carried on the tail.

All Weather, Day & Night
The Tornado GR4/4A are world leaders in the field of all-weather, day and night tactical reconnaissance. The aircraft has no cannons mounted in the forward fuselage. Replacing these are a Sideways Looking Infra-Red system and a Linescan infra-red surveillance system. This is the major point of identification between the GR1/4 and GR1A/4A, because the systems require a small window in the side of the fuselage, just below the cockpit. The standard Tornado GR1 and the Jaguar can also fulfil tactical reconnaissance tasks when equipped with a Vicon camera pod. Like other Tornados, the GR1A is being upgraded with advanced avionics and navigation systems - these new aircraft are designated Tornado GR4A.
Panavia Tornado GR Mk 4/4A
The Tornado GR4/4A is the RAF's Mid-Life Update to provide covert operational capability to their Tornado Mk1/1As, at a cost of around 850 million. It aims to keep the aircraft operational until 2015, when they will begin being replaced by the Future Offensive Air System. The program began in 1996 and is scheduled to be completed in early 2003. The first upgraded Tornado was delivered on 31 October 1997 and entered service on 30 September 1998. 142 Mk 1/1As will be upgraded in three equipment stages, thirty-two of these being combat-capable training versions. Twenty-six of these will be converted to the Mk 4A dedicated reconnaissance variant, with specialised equipment installed in the airframe. On an external fairing on the front fuselage, a FLIR sensor is installed, its images being projected on a wide-angle HUD. A Hughes Raptor reconnaissance pod can be carried. The new avionics system, which features a MIL-STD-1553B databus, is controlled by the main computer to link the new systems and allow complete integration of an improved defensive aids suite. It also improves navigation and flight performance. A 1760 weapons bus, which controls the release of a wide range of weapons, such as the Brimstone "smart" anti-armour munition, the Sea Eagle anti-shipping missile, the ASRAAM air-to-air missile, and the Storm Shadow stand-off missile, and provides improved adaptability to future weapons through the missile control and weapons programming units. Other upgrades include a Night Vision Goggle-compatable cockpit, a new colour multi-function HDD for the pilot, TIALD (for autonomous target acquisition), laser designation facilities, a Defence Aids Sub-System to protect from SAMs and radar-directed anti-aircraft guns, and GPS. HOTAS may be added in the future. Preliminary work is carried out at the RAF at St. Athan in Wales, and main conversion takes place at BAe Warton, in Lancashire.

Much of this information has been assimilated, and corrected from other websites.