RAF Tornado GR4

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(Redirected from Tornado GR4)
Panavia Tornado GR4
Tornado GR4

Role Ground attack/reconnaissance/SEAD
First flight August 14 1974
Entered service June 5 1979
ManufacturerBAE Systems (British versions)
Length16.7 m54 ft 10 in
Wingspan 67&deg sweep8.6 m 28 ft 3 in
Wingspan 25&deg sweep13.9 m 45 ft 8 in
Height5.95 m 19 ft 6 in
Wing area26.6 m²286 ft²
Empty20,410 kg45,000 lb
Loaded 29,410 kg 64,840 lb
Maximum takeoff28,000 kg61,700 lb
Engines2 x Turbo-Union RB199 turbofans
Dry thrust 40.5 kN 9100 lbf
Afterburner thrust71.2 kN 16,000 lbf
Maximum speed 2,336 km/h1,452 mph
Combat range1,480 km800 n mi
Ferry range 3,800 km 2,360 miles
Service ceiling > 15,200 m50,000 ft
Rate of climb4600 m/min15,000 ft/min
Wing loading kg/m² lb/ft²
Thrust/weight1.38 N/kg 0.14 lbf/lb at normal takeoff weight
Guns1 x 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon
Missiles AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-132 ASRAAM, Storm Shadow, ALARM, Brimstone
BombsPaveway LGBs, Dumb bombs
OtherRAPTOR Reconnaissance pod, TIALD Laser designator

The Tornado GR4 is a Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) used for low-level penetration to attack ground targets. It said to be the most effective fighter-bomber in service.



The Tornado programme first began with Tornado GR1s, which were built by a tri-national company (Panavia). As early as 1984 the UK Ministry of Defence began studies of a Mid-Life Update (MLU) of the aircraft. The GR4 upgrade was not approved until 1994, which was revised to include lessons learned from the GR1's performance in the 1991 Gulf War. One major change was the move from low level penetration to medium level attacks, while maintaining the low level capability. The contracts were signed in 1994 for the upgrade of 142 GR1s to GR4 standard, work began in 1996 and finished in 2003. Upgrades to the more than twenty-year old aircraft included, FLIR (Forward-Looking InfraRed), a wide-angle HUD (Heads-Up Display), improved cockpit displays, NVG (Night Vision Goggle) capabilities, new avionics and weapons systems, updated computer systems, and a Global Positioning System. The updated weapons system allowed integration of the latest offensive weapons, for example the Storm Shadow and Brimstone missiles.

Military operations

The Tornado GR4 made its operational debut in patrols during Operation Southern Watch. The aircraft flew from Ali al Salem in Kuwait, and patrolled a large part of southern Iraq. Several times bombs were dropped when the aircraft were fired upon by Iraqi ground defences.

Its full wartime debut came in Operation Telic, the British part of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The aircraft, according to all indications in the public domain, performed well. The campaign in Iraq marked a number of firsts for the aircraft. No. 617 Squadron debuted the Storm Shadow Missile, and enhanced Paveway Missiles were used in an anti-runway capacity.


The Tornado GR4's main function is ground attack (generally low to medium-level bombing) using the full range of air-to-ground munitions. Typical missions include precision strike (e.g. Paveway/Storm Shadow) and Supression of Enemy Air Defence (e.g. ALARM missile or LGB attacks on Command & Control.)

The GR4 will be replaced in RAF service by the Future Offensive Air System. This could be a manned aircraft, a UAV or cruise missile (possible Storm Shadow) based weapons system. Options for manned aircraft include modified versions of the Eurofighter Typhoon or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. If selected the Typhoon would likely be modified for internal weapons carriage and increased internal fuel capacity.

payload or survivabilty capabilities of the Tornado.


Powerplant: Two Turbo-Union RB199-103 Turbofans
Wingspan: 13.9 m (fully spread)
Length: 16.7 m
Max speed: 2,336 km/h (Mach 2.2) at 11,000 m altitude
Accommodation: Pilot and navigator
Armament: One Mauser 27 mm cannon and up to 18,000 lb (8,000 kg) of ordnance.


Template:RAF Tornado variants

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