The Tornado GR4 is a variable geometry, two-seat, day or night, all-weather attack aircraft, capable of delivering a wide variety of weapons.
- Engines: Two RR RB199 Mk103 turbofans
- Thrust: 16,000lbs each
- Max speed: 1.3Mach
- Length: 16.72m
- Max altitude: 50,000ft
- Span: 8.6m
- Aircrew: 2
- Armament: DMS and Legacy Brimstone, Enhanced Paveway II, Storm Shadow, , Paveway II, Paveway III, Paveway IV, Mauser 27mm Cannon, ASRAAM
Who uses the Tornado GR4/GR4A
- 9 (Bomber) Squadron
- RAF Marham
- 31 Squadron
- RAF Marham
- 15 (Reserve) Squadron
- RAF Lossiemouth
- 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron
- RAF Marham
The Tornado GR4 is a variable geometry, two-seat, 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 accurate range information on ground targets.
The GR4 can carry up to three Paveway II, two Paveway III or Enhanced Paveway Laser and Global Positioning System 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. In the reconnaissance role the GR4 can carry the Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod to provide detailed reconnaissance imagery, soon to be complimented by the RAPTOR pod offering further capability.
For self-protection, the 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 countermeasures 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 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, in Scotland, are the Operational Conversion Unit, No. 15(R) Squadron, and Nos 12(B), 14 and 617 Squadrons. RAF Marham is the home of the GR4s of Nos II(AC), IX(B), 13 and 31 Squadrons.
In addition to its long-range, high-speed precision strike capability, including supersonic at low level with a low-level combat radius of 400nmls, the Tornado GR4 is a world leader in the specialised field of all-weather, day and night tactical reconnaissance. The new RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod TORnado) pod is one of the most advanced reconnaissance sensors in the world and greatly increased the effectiveness of the aircraft in the reconnaissance role. Its introduction into service gave the GR4 the ability to download real-time, long-range, oblique-photography data to ground stations or to the cockpit during a mission. The stand-off range of the sensors also allows the aircraft to remain outside heavily defended areas, thus minimising the aircraft’s exposure to enemy air-defence systems.
Tornado GR4s are still fully engaged in Operation HERRICK conducting both Close Air Support and Reconnaissance missions in support of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.