The German air force is to upgrade the navigation capabilities of its Panavia Tornado fleet with the installation of a Litef integrated global-positioning system and laser inertial-navigation system (GPS/LINS).

The parliamentary defence approvals committee has cleared the procurement, and according to the defence ministry, a contract should be issued to the Freiburg-based Litton subsidiary Litef by the end of the year. The new unit will replace the aircraft's GEC-Marconi inertial-navigation units, and is expected to increase the accuracy of the Tornado's navigation system about 20-fold.

The upgrade has been driven by the need to respond to improving anti-aircraft defences and the requirements of the crisis reaction force role, maintaining the Tornado's operational effectiveness after 2000. Attacks on point targets, including the use of laser target designators and stand-off weapons, place high demands on navigation systems which the current navigation system does not meet, say defence specialists.

Apart from this, the NATO standard tactical air-navigation system TACAN is being to be phased out in the next few years in favour of satellite navigation.

The procurement will cover the upgrade of an initial 210 aircraft from Germany's air force and navy. This will include 120 interdictor strike (IDS) aircraft and 36 electronic-combat and reconnaissance aircraft from the air force, and 54 naval IDS aircraft. A second batch of 126 upgrades will follow.

Source: Flight International