Panavia Tornado GR.4: The Ultimate Tonka

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Introduction: The Tornado is an aircraft which is highly renowned that has served well under the flags of multiple nations. In order to keep it at the forefront of technology, the type has undergone numerous upgrades over its service life. The RAF’s update was the GR.4.

Description: The Tornado GR.4 was an upgrade of the GR.1, which had been the RAF’s main strike aircraft since 1979 and had seen action in Operation Granby in 1991. Though technologically advanced, the GR.1 was in need of an update by the mid-90’s. Apart from this, new weapons were being developed which would have to be integrated onto the platform. Various updates, some quite substantial, had been in the works for the Tornado as a whole since its entry into service. Therefore, the GR.4 was the culmination of years of experience and technological advancement. Most of the difference were on the interior of the aircraft, mostly in regards to electronics; with a new HUD, a GPS receiver, integration of night vision devices, and new avionics and sensors. Apart from this, the airframes were refurbished to help extend their service lives. The improvement of the electronic systems allowed for the easier integration of new weapon systems such as the Storm Shadow cruise missile, Brimstone, and the Paveway III, with Paveway IV being added later on in its service life, alongside a datalink system. One notable weapon system that was removed was the nuclear bomb, namely the WE.177, due to the Reykjavik Summit in 1986 removing the capability from the GR.1, as well as the retirement of nuclear weapons from RAF service in favour of PGMs, making it a non-nuclear force by 1998. JP.233 was also retired by 1999, and was unlikely to have ever been used by Tornado GR.4 squadrons, due to the signing of various treaties and lack of effectiveness when compared to PGMs. The only noticeable difference on the exterior of the aircraft is the extra FLIR pod on the port side of the fuselage, which necessitated the removal of the BK-27 cannon on the same side.

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Service: The aircraft entered service on the October 31st, 1997. The aircraft was almost immediately put into service during Operation Southern Watch in 1998, with Operation Desert Fox occurring the same year. In 2003, the GR.4 was involved in Operation Telic, in which the aircraft made great use of PGMs, most notably Storm Shadow, which made its combat debut during the conflict. The aircraft remained in Iraq until 2009. That same year, GR.4s arrived in Afghanistan to replace the Harriers based there. On the 18th March 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron stated that Tornados and Typhoons would help enforce the UN mandated no-fly zone over Libya, conducting the longest bombing missions undertaken by the RAF since the Falklands War, with Brimstone leaving its mark on the conflict. In 2014, Tornado GR.4s were based out of RAF Akrotiri in order to conduct operations as part of Operation Shader, the British mission against Daesh. Such strikes were conducted by the GR.4 until its retirement. In 2018, the type was involved in joint strikes conducted by the US, UK and France against the Assad regime’s chemical weapons facilities by launching Storm Shadow cruise missiles. In July 2018, Tornado GR.4s took part in the RAF’s Centenary flypast over London, being watched by thousands of people, including the Royal Family. Various aircraft were painted in celebratory schemes in the final months of their service, in order to celebrate the 40 years of service conducted by Tornado. The last operational sortie of Operation Shader was flown on January 31st, 2019. A few weeks later, on March 14th, the last flight of an RAF Tornado was conducted by ZA463, the oldest remaining Tornado, over RAF Marham during the disbandment ceremony of No.IX (B) Squadron, with the aircraft being officially retired on April 1st, the 101st Anniversary of the RAF. During its service, the GR.4 was almost constantly being used in an active combat zone. The role of the Tornado GR.4 has been taken over by the Typhoon FGR.4 and the F-35 Lightning.

Performance:

Spoiler

Specifications (Tornado GR.4)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 16.72 m (54 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan : 13.91 m at 25° wing sweep, 8.60 m at 67° wing sweep (45.6 ft / 28.2 ft)
  • Height: 5.95 m (19.5 ft)
  • Wing area: 26.6 m² (286 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 13,890 kg (31,620 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight : 28,000 kg (61,700 lb)
  • Powerplant:Turbo-Union RB199 -34R Mk 103 afterburning turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 43.8 kN (9,850 lbf) each
    • Thrust with afterburner : 76.8 kN (17,270 lbf) each

Performance

Armament

  • Guns: Single 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon with 180 rounds
  • Hardpoints: Four fuselage pylons and four swivelling underwing pylons with a capacity of a maximum of 9000 kg (19,800 lb) of weapons, fuel, and ECM pods
  • Weapons:
    • AIM-9L Sidewinder
    • ASRAAM
    • Storm Shadow
    • Brimstone
    • Paveway II/III/IV
    • ALARM
    • Sea Eagle (supposedly had been wired to carry it, unlikely to have been used in service)
    • various dumb bombs
  • RAPTOR Reconnaissance pod, TIALD laser designator [16] , Sky Shadow ECM pod, LITENING targeting pod

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Conclusion: The Tornado GR.4 was the culmination of years of experience of the Tornado, and was the final iteration of a classic aircraft that had certainly left its mark on both British aviation heritage, and to an extent its popular culture.

Sources:

Spoiler

“British Secret Projects 2: Jet Bombers since 1949” by Tony Buttler

“Typhoon to Typhoon: RAF Air Support Projects and Weapons Since 1945” by Chris Gibson

“The Tornado Story” by John Christopher

“Bombers” by Francis Crosby

Military Jets Up Close - Robert Jackson - Google Books

Middle East Air Power in the 21st Century - Tim Ripley - Google Books

The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom 2007-2008 - Google Books

https://www.tornadosig.com/variants.html#:~:text=The%20key%20difference%20between%20the%20GR4%20and%20the%20GR1%20is,one%20of%20the%20Mauser%20cannons .

GR.4/4A

RAF

Tornado Gr1 / Gr4 differences - LSP Discussion - Large Scale Planes

Tornado Gr1 and Tornado gr4? | Key Aero

https://sites.google.com/site/leesaircraft/panavia-tornado-1

Panavia Tornado History | RAF Tornado Warplane

https://www.raf.mod.uk/news/articles/the-end-of-an-era-raf-tornado-returns-from-operations-for-the-last-time/

https://www.baesystems.com/en/product/tornado-gr4

13 Likes

Yes, just so much yes. Brimstone will break the game, and I can’t wait.

11 Likes

cries in brimstoneless tornado

8 Likes

Big +1

3 Likes

+1

2 Likes

Better list of available weapons and countermeasures;

Weapons

  • 1 x 27 mm Mauser cannon
  • 2 x AIM-9G / AIM-9L / ASRAAM
  • 12 x 1,000 lb free fall or xxxx bomb
  • 12 x BL755 cluster bomb
  • 4 x CBU-87 cluster bomb
  • 9 x ALARM anti-radiation missile
  • 2 x JP233
  • 3 x Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb (1,000 lb)
  • 3 x Enhanced Paveway II Laser / GPS Guided Bomb (1,000 lb)
  • 2 x Paveway III Laser Guided Bomb (2,000 lb)
  • 2 x Enhanced Paveway III Laser / GPS Guided Bomb (2,000 lb)
  • 5 x Paveway IV Laser / GPS Guided Bomb (500 lb)
  • 1 x TIALD or Litening III targeting pod
  • 4 x Storm Shadow cruise missile
  • 12 x Brimstone air-to-ground missile (up to 18 carried in testing)
  • 12 x Dual mode Brimstone air-to-ground missile (18 may be possible)

Countermeasures

  • 2 x BOL 304 dispensers (320 flares / chaff total)
  • 1 x BOZ-107 pod (28 flares & 600 chaff) - it seems carrying 2 is possible (so 56 flares & 1,200 chaff total)
  • 1 x Sky Shadow ECM pod
  • 1 x TERMA Modular Countermeasures Pod (240 flares / chaff + AN/AAR-57 MAWS)
  • BriteCloud active radar decoys
7 Likes

Ultimate Tornado ofc +1

2 Likes

+1 As a British fanboy it is my dream to have the ultimate Tonka

2 Likes

+1 As a British tree fanboy

However gaijin- please don’t let it get butchered like how you butchered the J35XS, it’s still missing armaments since it’s 2021-2022 Addition to the game that Were part of the suggestion post.

TL;DR: Tornado Gr.1 with one less cannon to give it a FLIR, Paveway IV’s, better TGP, no PGM’s, and Brimstone when it gets comes.

2 Likes

Might be worth if it gets ASRAAM

1 Like

simply put, hell yes

1 Like