Douglas Barrie/LONDON

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE has specified a further series of upgrades for its Panavia Tornado GR1 fleet, to be undertaken at the same time as the mid-life upgrade (MLU) programme, which takes the aircraft to GR4 standard. The additional work covers software and hardware upgrades, along with the integration of new weapons.

BAe is upgrading 142 Tornados to the GR4 standard. The enhancements include provision of night-vision goggles and forward-looking infra-red sensors, new head-up displays, integrated global-positioning systems (GPS) and electronic-warfare enhancements. The first aircraft entered the return-to-work programme in April. Initial deliveries to the RAF will begin in March 1998, says the Ministry of Defence. All the RAF air-craft will be modified by 2002.

The Royal Saudi Air Force's fleet of Tornado interdictor-strike aircraft is also liable to receive a similar upgrade to RAF GR4 MLU standard.

The work covers three packages:

Package Zero, covers software upgrades for the aircraft, with an in-service date of September 1998:

Package One covers the full integration of the Texas Instruments Paveway III laser-guided bomb, GEC-Marconi thermal-imaging airborne laser-designator/aircraft-software enhancements and the fleet-wide integration of the British Aerospace Sea Eagle anti-ship missile and associated display upgrades;

Package Two covers the integration of the BAe Storm Shadow conventional air-launched stand-off missile, and the Brimstone air-launched anti-armour missile. Work on technical definition was started in July, with an expected in-service date of December 2000.

The RAF is also looking at further enhancements for the GR4, including a hands-on-throttle-and-stick modification. A laser inertial-gyro and a ground-proximity warner are under consideration. Also being examined is the selection of an electro-optical long-range oblique-photography pod, to provide a fleet-wide reconnaissance capability.

Source: Flight International