UK reveals scope of Tornado helmet deal

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The UK Ministry of Defence has provided new details about an urgent operational requirement (UOR) deal that is enhancing the situational awareness of Royal Air Force Panavia GR4 strike aircraft crews in Afghanistan.

BAE Systems recently began delivering new helmet-mounted cueing systems for use with the Tornado force deployed at Kandahar airfield, under a requirement identified in April 2011.

Projected on a monocle in front of the pilot's eye, the information has "greatly enhanced the crew's situational awareness and resource management, enabling the rapid identification of points of interest in the homogeneous Afghan environment", the RAF says.

raf tornado, bae systems

 © BAE Systems

Minister for defence equipment and support Peter Luff revealed the scope of the UOR deal in response to a parliamentary question on 23 April, valuing the activity at about £11.5 million ($18.5 million).

"It is intended that 25 Tornado GR4s will be modified to embody the helmet-mounted cueing system; of these, 12 will be equipped with the system at any one time," Luff said. Nine aircraft have been equipped with the system to date, he added.

"Over the coming months, we will continue to work with the customer, to provide the capability across the wider Tornado fleet," says Martin Taylor, BAE's combat air support director.