The UK Ministry of Defence will sign a contract later this year for a communications and weapon system upgrade to the Royal Air Force's Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft, with the project having failed to advance as expected during March.

At the heart of the work is a tactical information exchange capability (TIEC) package that will introduce an integrated data modem and Link 16 datalink fit and combine their outputs with current aircraft sensors to improve situational awareness. The TIEC fit will form part of a wider capability development and sustainment service deal for the GR4, which will also add secure communications equipment and Raytheon Systems' Paveway IV laser/GPS-guided bomb.

BAE Systems and General Dynamics UK were selected in August 2004 to conduct assessment work on the TIEC project, with the companies responsible for design and integration activities and the datalink subsystem respectively. The TIEC equipment is also scheduled for integration with the UK's BAE Systems Harrier GR9/9A ground-attack aircraft.

Air Cdre Simon Bollom, Tornado Integrated Project Team Leader for the UK's Defence Equipment and Support organisation, says the deal will mark the start of a new strategy to fund biennial technology insertion packages for the GR4.

Source: Flight International