The German air force has commenced test activities with the first of a planned 85 Panavia Tornado aircraft to be upgraded to a so-called ASSTA 2 operating configuration.

Prepared by EADS Military Air Systems using an electronic combat and reconnaissance variant aircraft, the modernisation introduces improved cockpit displays and countermeasures equipment.

EADS expects to update 62 Tornados to the ASSTA 2 standard after the completion of flight tests by the air force’s WTD-61 test squadron, with the service to modify the rest of its retained fleet in Erding.

Tornado ASSTA 2 - EADS 
© EADS Military Air Systems

The Luftwaffe plans to continue flying 85 Tornados until around 2020, after gradually reducing its current fleet of the type from around 190 aircraft as more Eurofighter squadrons become operational.

Meanwhile, EADS is already testing part of a future ASSTA 3 package of enhancements for the Tornado at its Manching site in Bavaria. This includes a Link 16 datalink and "further high-performance weapon systems," it says.