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Tornado ADV - F.3

Turning into the circuit, this F.3 has its wings swept fully forward, preparing for a slow approach and landing. Note the Sidewinder missile rails under the wings, one loaded, and the under-body indentations for the larger Sky Flash missiles.

ADV (Air Defence Variant) - supersonic, two-seat, long-range interceptor - designated F.2 and F.3 in the RAF

Panavia Aircraft GmbH, a German/Italian/U.K. conglomerate, MBB(15%)/Aeritalia(42.5%)/BAC-BAe(42.5%)

two Turbo-Union RB.199-34R Mk104 augmented turbofans, 9,100lb(4,128kg) thrust dry - 16,520lb (7,493kg) with afterburner

  • span : 28'2"-45'7"(8.59-13.90m) (sweep from 68° to 25°)
  • length : 59'4"(18.08m)
  • height : 19'6"(5.95m)
  • wing area : 286.3sqft(26.6m²)


  • empty : 31,970lb(14,500kg)
  • takeoff : 47,500lb(21,546kg)
  • maximum takeoff : 61,700lb(27,986kg)


  • max speed low level : 920mph (1,480km/h)
  • at 40,000' : 1,450mph(2,333km/h)
  • ceiling : 50,000+ft(15,240+m)
  • tactical radius with two 330 gal external tanks : 350-450miles(560-725km)
  • ferry range with 4 tanks : 2,650miles(4,265km)


  • Tornado prototype : 14th August 1974
  • F Mk.2 prototypes : 27th October 1979
  • Production : 5th March 1984
  • F Mk.3 : 20th November 1985


  • Marconi/Ferranti AI-24 Foxhunter radar, pulse Doppler FMICW I-band at 3cm
  • TWS (track while scan) for 12-20 targets
  • Autopilot, flight director, autothrottle, track acquisition
  • advanced IFF integrated with radar
  • RHWR installation
  • TED (threat evaluation display) for backseater
  • Ferranti FIN1010 inertial navigation system


  • IKWA Mauser 27mm gun
  • four Sky Flash air-to-air missiles
  • four AIM-9L Sidewinder AAM
  • AIM-120 Amraams

The interceptor version of the basic Tornado is a compromise, but an efficient fighting machine none the less. The ADV is slightly longer than its IDS sister (Tornado IDS), to accommodate the Skyflash missiles and the Foxhunter radar. Commonality with the IDS is approximately 80-90%. Differences include wing-root gloves with an acute sweep, and there are no Krueger flaps on the F.3. The aircraft has a complex avionics suite allowing advanced target identification and vision-augmentation prior to engagement with the Sky Flash missiles. There is also a radar warning system which differs from the IDS version. Not a great dogfighter by any means, the F.3 is a very capable platform for performing CAP duties, which it did successfully during the Gulf war. It has yet to be tested in real combat. It has recently been decided to keep the F.3 alive until the arrival of the Eurofighter in the next century, and not to lease American F.16s to plug the gap.


The Tornado ADV will remain the UK's first line of defense until it is replaced by the Eurofighter 2000 (Typhoon), some time after 2003.

Squadrons using the F.3 are:

  • No.XI Squadron, RAF Leeming
  • No.25 Squadron, RAF Leeming
  • No.43 Squadron, RAF Leuchers
  • No.56 (Reserve) Squadron, RAF Coningsby
  • No.111 Squadron, RAF Leuchers
  • 1435 Flight, the Falklands

F.3T - ZE908 - No.25 Sqn, RAF Leeming
Stationary on the runway just prior to brake release, the thunderous afterburning engines straining to go. Note the large under-wing fuel tanks & wide track undercarriage.