Alenia Aeronautica has delivered the first Panavia Tornado IDS upgraded to "basic full mid-life update" status to the Italian air force.
The 20 December handover at Ghedi air base, near Brescia, northern Italy, involved the first of 15 aircraft being upgraded at Alenia's Caselle, Turin facilities under a €50 million ($66 million) retrofit contract awarded in October 2007. Three of the Tornados are configured as trainers.
The mid-life update package includes all the modifications previously made to members of the Italian Tornado IDS fleet under the "1st Upgrade" package plus a night vision goggle-compliant cockpit with new multifunction colour displays.
A new environmental control system has been added to cope with the enlarged avionics suite. It includes microwave landing system capability, a flight data recorder and emergency locator transmitter, plus Link 16 system and Rafael RecceLite reconnaissance pod integration.
The enhanced avionics plus a forthcoming new weapons integration software package are intended to give Italian Tornados intelligence, net-centric and advanced radar-suppression capabilities. The software upgrade will be allied to a weapons package including the Boeing/Oto Melara GBU-032 Joint Direct Attack Munition, Raytheon GBU-24 E/B Enhanced Paveway III and MBDA Storm Shadow stand-off system.