RAF Takes Delivery of Last Tornado GR4
(Source: Royal Air Force; issued June 10, 2003)
The RAF has taken delivery of the last of 142 Tornado GR4 aircraft. A ceremony to mark the handover of the last of the updated aircraft was held at the BAE Systems site at Warton in Lancashire.

Representing the Defence Logistics Organisation, Air Chief Marshal Sir Malcolm Pledger, Chief of Defence Logistics was at Warton to officially receive the aircraft.

Speaking at the ceremony Sir Malcolm offered his personal thanks to all concerned in building the GR4 thus ensuring that the Royal Air Force is now equipped with its most potent weapon system ever. Sir Malcolm said, "The fact that the last Tornado GR4 is being delivered now is a timely reminder that this aircraft will be with us for a number of years to come."

The total cost of the program is over one billion pounds and sees the Tornado aircraft upgraded in a number of areas. These include an updated weapons system to allow the carriage of new and future weapons such as Storm Shadow, Brimstone and the Raptor reconnaissance pod. Updates have also been made to navigation systems, head-up and cockpit displays which are now compatible with night-vision goggles. An integrated Global Positioning System and Ground Proximity Warning system have been added to the navigation suite providing an extremely effective covert capability.

Air Officer Commanding No.1 Group, Air Vice Marshal Glenn Torpy, paid tribute to the original Tornado GR1 variant which had been the backbone of RAF front-line attack Squadrons for 21 years, before adding "The GR4 capability eclipses the original GR1, and is very much a pilot's and navigator's aircraft."

The Tornado GR4 will continue to be at the very heart of the RAF's offensive capability until 2018, when it is due to be replaced by the Future Offensive Air System, (FOAS).


Landmark Day as Final GR4 is Delivered
(Source: BAE Systems; issued June 10, 2003)BAE Systems delivered the last of 142 Tornado GR4 Mid Life Update aircraft to the Royal Air Force at a celebration event held at Warton on 10 June.

Representing the Defence Logistics Organisation, Air Chief Marshal Sir Malcolm Pledger, Chief of Defence Logistics, was at the Lancashire plant to officially receive the aircraft. He hailed the introduction of additional improvements during the course of the programme as a great success. He paid tribute to the flexibility and commitment, of all on the project to introduce these changes with minimal impact on the programme.

Turning to the future, he described the planned combination of maintenance and further upgrade activities on Tornado as innovative and courageous. He told workers, They could only be contemplated given the great confidence we have in BAE Systems at Warton, not least derived from your performance on this upgrade programme. I believe it will form the basis of how we design, integrate, test and provide clearance for capability modification in the future.

The £1 billion-plus conversion programme has been extremely demanding from both a budget and aircraft build perspective as Mark Greenhalgh, director strike operations for BAE Systems Customer Solutions & Support business, explains.

From the outset, the demands of the programme forced us to challenge traditional return-to-works processes and revolutionise the way upgrades are performed. During the course of the programme we reduced the build time for each aircraft by 40 per cent.

The GR4 programme is an update to the GR1 Tornado strike aircraft improves the aircraft’s strike capability. The project began on 29 July 1994 with initial development work and the first aircraft was handed over to the customer on 31 October1997.

The GR4 standard introduces structural improvements and new avionics, which allow new systems such as the Raptor reconnaissance pod, and cutting-edge weapons such as the Storm Shadow cruise missile, to be progressively introduced.

Weapon system improvements include a thermal imaging and laser designator system, which allows the aircraft to drop laser-guided Paveway bombs. Also new are hands-on throttle and stick controls, a forward looking infra red system (FLIR) and cockpit displays compatible with night vision goggles (NVG)

The GR4 has upgraded guidance and warning systems, with the introduction of a laser inertial navigation system, integrated global positioning system and ground proximity warning system. Together with FLIR and NVG, these provide an extremely effective covert capability.

BAE Systems is an international company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, on land, at sea and in space. BAE Systems has major operations across five continents and customers in some 130 countries. The company has 100,000 people and generates annual sales of approximately £12 billion through its wholly-owned and joint venture operations.

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