The three partner nations on the Tornado programme established a joint training unit at RAF Cottesmore that lasted almost 20 years. A former station commander and an instructor described its inner workings to Dino Carrara in 2015.
When West Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom were in the process of bringing the Tornado into service they realised the creation of a combined aircrew training unit would be the most cost-effective and efficient option. Senior government officials signed the agreement on May 8, 1979 and funding was apportioned in line with how much each country would use the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE): Germany paid 45% of the costs, UK 40% and Italy 15%.
The base chosen to host the new unit was RAF Cottesmore in Rutland. The first Tornado to arrive was an RAF example on July 1, 1980 – it was followed by a German aircraft on September 2 and an Italian one on April 5, 1982.