Panavia Tornado IDS (InterDictor / Strike) All-Weather, Low-Level Strike Aircraft
The Panavia Tornado became a limited production, specialized strike variant of the famous Panavia Tornado line.
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The Panavia Tornado emerged as the product of a consortium of European companies from the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy during the latter half of the Cold War years. The company was established as "Panavia Aircraft GmbH" and founded on March 29th, 1969, headquartered in Hallbergmoos, Bavaria, Germany (the group was originally to include The Netherlands). The aircraft was one of several famous ""swing wing" developments to appear during the period that included the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23/-27 "Flogger". The engines would come from the Turbo-Union consortium made up of Rolls-Royce, MTU and FiatAvio.
The Tornado was designed as a strike-oriented fighter that could operate from short and/or battle damaged runways at a time when World War 3 was a very real possibility across Europe. Indeed, the Tornado proved a very important part of the European deterrent during this time, intended to serve as a first-strike system should the Cold War ever have gone "hot". The Panavia Tornado has since seen operational service with Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.
The initial prototype went airborne for the first time on August 14th, 1974 and production-quality forms were being delivered beginning in July of 1980. The radar was a Texas Instruments terrain following system with ground-mapping capabilities. Flight control was aided through a full fly-by-wire suite with center stick. Both crew positions held ejection seats. Navigation was by way of a digital Inertial Navigation System.
The Tornado line evolved through three major production variants during its service life, these becoming the strike-oriented Tornado IDS ("InterDictor / Strike"), the Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat / Reconnaissance) for countering enemy air defenses, and the Tornado ADV - the dedicated interceptor of the group. The IDS and ECR airframes were the two most closely related marks, sharing some 80% commonality in parts but it was the IDS mark that could be called on to deliver all manner of ordnance including guided missiles and bombs while providing its own defense through twin internal cannons and onboard countermeasures. All Tornado forms were two-seat offerings. The variable wing nature of the design allowed the aircraft to adjust its wing angle in-flight. This design decision allowed the airframe to main all of the qualities of low-speed handling as well as high-speed performance when needed. The wing assemblies could be manually (or automatically in some models) adjusted to reach angles of 25- to 67-degrees.