Royal Air Force - RAF Aircraft - Tornado F3 - No longer in service - r7a2 - Armed Forces


TORNADO F3 (No longer in service)

Tornado F3 taking off at RAF Leuchars

The Air Defence Variant (ADV) of the Tornado from which the F3 was developed flew for the first time in October 1979.

The F3 was replaced with the Typhoon entirely as at 31 Mar 2011.

The aircraft had a long-range, autonomous capability that enabled operations to be conducted some 350 nm away from bases in bad weather, in an ECM environment and operating against multiple targets at high or low-level, which could be engaged at distances in excess of 20 nm.

With tanker support, the Tornado F3 Combat Air Patrol (CAP) time was increased from 2 hrs and 30 mins to a loiter time of several hours. The Tornado F3 was originally armed with 4 x semi-recessed Sky Flash, 4 x Sidewinder AIM-9L missiles, and a single Mauser 27 mm cannon and had about 80% commonality with the Tornado GR1.

The main difference between the Tornado GR and the F3 was the extended fuselage, longer range air intercept Foxhunter Radar (replacing the terrain-following/ground mapping radar of the Tornado GR1) and the armament. Extension of the fuselage provided additional space for avionics and an extra 900 litres of fuel. RAF Tornado F3s were equipped with the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS).

Operating in conjunction with Sentry AEW1 airborne early warning aircraft and other allied fighters, the system gave a real-time picture of the air battle, including information obtained by other sensors in other fighters or airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft.

RAF Tornado F3s were sent to the Gulf in August 1990 and by the end of hostilities on the 28 February 1991, 18 x F3 aircraft had flown some 2,500 sorties during their deployment including 700 sorties during the period of hostilities. Tornado F-3s from all four active UK squadrons were deployed during the 2003 Iraq War (Op Telic).

Under the 140 million Tornado F3 Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP), 100 F-3s were upgraded to incorporate the Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), and the Matra BAe Dynamics Advanced Short- Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM).

For the Iraq War, F-3s were also modified to carry the ALARM anti-radiation missile. Expect a Tornado F3 Squadron to have between 16 and 20 established crews.

Tornado F3 Specifications
Crew 2
Wingspan (open) 13.9m
Wingspan (swept) 8.6m
Height 5.9m
Length 18.7m
Max Weapon Load 8,500kg
Max Take Off Weight 27,900kg
Max Speed Mach 2.2 (1,452mph/2,333kph)
Engines 2 x Turbo-Union RB 199-34R Mk104 Turbofans
Intercept Radius 1,850 km (subsonic) or 550 km (supersonic)
Radar Foxhunter Air Intercept radar known as the A124
Armament 1 x 27mm Mauser Cannon
4 x AIM-9L Sidewinder

Tornado in World Service
(Original Procurement Figures)
Country GR1/1DS F2/F3/ADV ECR/GR1A/Recce
UK 199 170 26
Germany 302 - 36
Italy 70 24 leased from UK -
Saudi Arabia 48 24 -

Photo 1 Copyright Alasdair Taylor Photo 2 Copyright BAe SYSTEMS