As the Tornado completes its final year of service with the Royal Air Force, which is set to become the first operator to retire the type, Combat Aircraft looks at the wider Tornado community — starting with the Italian Air Force.
THE TORNADO INTERDICTOR Strike (IDS) variant entered service before its less prolific Air Defence Variant (ADV) spin-off and it has gone on to significantly outlast it in service. Some 697 IDS jets were delivered to Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the UK, with 35 broadly similar ECR (Electronic Combat and Reconnaissance) versions being supplied to the two continental European users. Although in dwindling numbers, all continue to fly the ‘mud-moving’ Tornado. The RAF is set to be the first to retire its final GR4s in April 2019 after a prolifixc service record of combat action. The Luftwaffe e, too, is well into a program to replace its Tornados, and in Italy the F-35 will eventually see off the last wing of 1980s strikers.