Panavia Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat / Reconnaissance) Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) Aircraft
The Panavia Tornado ECR forms the second of three major Tornado aircraft variants.
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The Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat / Reconnaissance) is a specialized "Suppression of Enemy Air Defense" (SEAD) offshoot of the original Tornado IDS (InterDictor / Strike) strike-fighter. The version is outfitted with a higher degree of onboard sensors as well as support for the AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missile. The aircraft is used to counter enemy air defenses prior to the involvement of the main strike force, effectively "blinding" the enemy from further reaction through its air force. As such, ECRs were equipped with sophisticated Electronic CounterMeasures (ECMs) for survival while its missiles can ride incoming radar signals down to their source through an Emitter Location System (ELS). The initial Tornado ECR was delivered on May 21st, 1990 and have been operated by the air services of Germany and Italy. The United Kingdom, the other major Tornado IDS user, instead makes use of a specialized Tornado ADV F.3 mark for the role.
There are three major Tornado forms - the IDS, ECR and ADV. The IDS is the dedicated strike platform while the ECR is the dedicated SEAD model. The ADV is the interceptor variant. The original Tornado IDS was taken into service by West Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. The Panavia name was formed from the tri-national effort of West Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom while strike-minded and ECR Tornados still form a vital part of the aerial firepower for Western Europe - though its service life is expected to come to a close by the end of the decade.