The Tornado GR4 is a variable geometry, twoseat, day or night, all-weather attack aircraft, capable of delivering a wide variety of weapons. Powered by two Rolls Royce RB 199 Mk 103 turbofan engines, the GR4 is capable of low-level supersonic flight and can sustain a high subsonic cruise speed.
The aircraft can fly automatically at low level using terrain-following radar when poor weather prevents visual flight. The aircraft is also equipped with forward-looking Infrared and is night-vision goggle compatible, making it a capable platform for passive night operations. For navigation purposes, the Tornado is equipped with an integrated global positioning inertial navigation system that can also be updated with visual or radar inputs. The GR4 is also equipped with a Laser Ranger and Marked Target Seeker system that can be used for ground designation or can provide accuraterange information on ground targets.
The Tornado GR4 can carry up to three Paveway II, two Paveway III or Enhanced Paveway Laser Guided Bombs (LGBs), and by using a Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designation (TIALD) pod it is able to self-designate targets for LGB delivery. The GR4 also has a ground mapping radar to identify targets for the delivery of conventional 1000lb bombs and BL755 cluster bombs. All GR4 aircraft are capable of carrying the Air Launched Anti-Radiation Missile (ALARM), which homes on the emitted radiation of enemy radar systems and can be used for the suppression of enemy air defences.
The GR4 is capable of carrying up to nine ALARM missiles or a mixed configuration of ALARM missiles and bombs. In the reconnaissance role the GR4 can carry the Joint Reconnaissance Pod to provide detailed reconnaissance imagery; this is currently being replaced with the RAPTOR pod, which provides an even greater day-and-night reconnaissance potential.
For self-protection, the Tornado GR4 is normally armed with two AIM-9L Sidewinder short-range, air-to-air missiles, a BOZ-107 Pod on the right wing to dispense chaff and flares and a Sky Shadow-2 electronic counter-measures pod on the left wing. The aircraft can also carry an integral 27mm Mauser cannon capable of firing 1700 rounds per minute.
The Tornado GR4 is now being equipped with the Storm Shadow missile and will soon be equipped with the new Brimstone missile. The Storm Shadow will allow the Tornado to make precision strikes in poor weather with a greatly increased stand-off range from the target area. Brimstone will provide the Tornado with an effective anti-armour weapon, also providing an enhanced stand-off range.
The Tornado GR4 is currently operated from two bases. Based at RAF Lossiemouth are the Operational Conversion Unit, No 15(R) Squadron, and Nos 12, 14 and 617 Squadrons. RAF Marham, the home of the GR4s of Nos 9(B) and 31 Squadrons, also houses the GR4As of Nos II(AC) and 13 Squadrons. The GR4A is equipped with the Tornado Infrared Reconnaissance system, which provides a low-level tactical reconnaissance capability.
Tornado GR4 Specifications
Powerplant: Two Turbo Union RB199 turbofans
Thrust: 16,000lbs each
Wingspan: 8.6 metres (28ft 2ins) to 13.91 metres (45ft 7ins)
Length: 16.72m (54ft 10ins)
Height: 5.95m (19ft 6ins)
Max T/O weight: 28,059kg (61,729lbs)
Fuel internal: 5141kg (11,310lbs)
Fuel external: 1800kg (3960lbs) (under wing tanks)
Max speed: Mach 1.3
Max altitude: 50,000ft
• Variable swept-wing, all-weather strike or reconnaissance aircraft.
• Terrain-following radar, forward-looking Infrared and night-vision goggles give it a full
• Laser target-marker allows self-designation of target for laser guided bomb operations.
• Full air-to-ground weapons capability including suppression of enemy air-defence systems.
• Infrared system enables the GR4A to conduct low-level, tactical reconnaissance missions.