The Royal Saudi Air Force has clocked up 32 years of Tornado operations. Combat Aircraft looks back at the story of how the country became the only export customer for the Tornado and how the type has been upgraded to remain credible.

THE TORNADO INTERDICTOR Strike (IDS) variant and its less proliic Air Defence Variant (ADV) derivative were both exported to Saudi Arabia, although the latter was retired by August 2006. As Saudi Arabia faced a growing challenge to its regional hegemony, and even a direct military threat from Iran, it prompted a major re-armament program. The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) needed to establish enhanced air-to-ground capabilities, plus a meaningful interdiction and long-range attack capability.

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