Picture: Storm Shadow cruise missile tested for Royal Saudi Air Force Tornadoes

Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

BAE Systems appears to have reached an advanced stage in its programme to upgrade the capabilities of Saudi Arabia’s Panavia Tornado interdictor strike aircraft, with flight testing now underway of a trials aircraft carrying MBDA’s Storm Shadow cruise missile.

Tornado Sustainment Programme aircraft ZH917 is pictured at BAE’s Warton site in Lancashire on 2 April carrying two Storm Shadow rounds, including one painted in high-visibility markings for possible test release purposes

Storm Shadow clearly visible on Saudi Tornado ©Nathan Daws

BAE declines to comment on the current flight test activity, which is being conducted as part of the wide-ranging Al Yamamah arms deal between the Saudi and UK governments. However, a UK source close to the negotiations confirms that the more than 250km (135nm)-range Storm Shadow is “among a number of systems” now being evaluated for possible integration as part of the Royal Saudi Air Force’s Tornado upgrade.

Saudi Arabia is meanwhile expected to sign a deal with the UK government around mid-year to acquire its planned fleet of 72 Eurofighter Typhoons, with these to replace the air force’s Tornado air defence variant platforms.