THE GERMAN AIR force's Panavia Tornado ECRs are to lose their secondary reconnaissance capability as their Honeywell infra-red imaging system (IIS) is transferred to new reconnaissance pods.

The ECR variant's primary defence-suppression mission is too demanding to allow an additional, secondary, reconnaissance role, according to German air force sources at Piacenza air base, Italy. The new pods are under development for the Tornado IDS reconnaissance wing at Schleswig-Jagel and are due to enter service in 1998.

Six of the Luftwaffe's 35 Tornado ECRs are based at Piacenza to support NATO operations over Bosnia. The aircraft are not utilising the IIS in this role because the system is designed to operate at low level, while NATO aircraft routinely operate above 10,000ft (3,000m) over Bosnia for safety reasons.

Source: Flight International