The Tornado first flew on August 14, 1974 and procured by West Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the UK. The latter three countries also flew the Tornado Air Defence Variant, though none remain in service. The RAF retired the Tornado GR4 in 2019, while the other air forces still have the Tornado in frontline service.
Features, news and videos covering the Tornado aircraft
The Italian Air Force has deployed an unspecified number of Panavia Tornado IDS ground attack/strike aircraft to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait as part of its latest Task Group Devil detachment to the Middle East region
Airbus Defence and Space announced on November 29 that the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag had recently approved the firm to convert 15 Luftwaffe (German Air Force)-operated Eurofighter EF-2000s to EK-standard, providing the selected multi-role fighters with additional electronic combat (EK) capabilities
Flt Lt Nathan Shawyer was the last ever RAF pilot to be taught to fly the Tornado. He spoke to Key Aero’s Dino Carrara about his time on the legendary jet, including what it was like to be on the final conversion course, then going straight on operations over Iraq and Syria and being part of the retirement celebrations for the aircraft.
Revealing insights from the days of the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) at RAF Cottesmore
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
Mark Ayton got the inside story on the Tornado GR4's long-range missions to strike targets in Libya using Storm Shadow missiles
A new Balkan crisis erupted in the province of Kosovo in the late 1990s that saw the Tornado GR1 thrown into battle again – and for the first time in Europe. In the June 2018 issue of AirForces Monthly the then wing commander at RAF Brüggen, Greg Bagwell, discussed the Tornado’s campaign with Thomas Newdick
Saudi Arabia was the only country outside Europe to buy the Tornado. In 2015, Jon Lake reviewed the service careers of the IDS and ADV variants in the desert kingdom
In the April 2019 issue of AirForces Monthly, Thomas Newdick spoke to two of the final navigators to fly the ‘Tonka’ – Flt Lts Phil McGlone and Sam Baker
Panavia Tornado Design and History
The Tornado was designed for the Cold War and to counter the threat from the Eastern Bloc. The bomber variant’s versatility has been one of its strengths. It is also used for reconnaissance and the suppression of enemy air defences. For the main ground attack role it has an arsenal consisting of a wide range of precision weapons including long-range missiles, such as Storm Shadow and Taurus.
Although the Air Defence Variant didn’t enjoy the same success as the Interdiction Strike (IDS) version, it performed admirably in its intended role as an interceptor.
The high regard in which the Tornado IDS has been held over the years by the air forces flying it is illustrated by the fact that it has usually been the first aircraft called upon when a crisis flares up and so has been involved in numerous campaigns. While the RAF retired its aircraft in 2019, Germany, Italy and Saudi Arabia plan to keep their Tornados in service for a number of years to come.
The Tornado has been a multinational success story and one that is set to continue for some time to come.