Luftwaffe Tornado Heads Up Display Investment Approved

The Budget Committee of the Deutschen Bundestages (the legislative arm of the German Parliament) has invested in digitising the head-up display (HUD) of the Luftwaffe’s (German Air Force’s) Panavia Tornado IDS/ECR fleet.

The upgrade – which will cost €240m – will see a newly-developed HUD installed onto the both variants of Germany’s Tornado fleet.

Panavia Tornado IDS - serial 43+25 (c/n 062/GS008/4025)
Panavia Tornado IDS - serial 43+25 (c/n 062/GS008/4025) - holds just short of the runway before departing RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, after being on static display at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2019. This aircraft, belonging to Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 (TLG 51) 'Immelman', sported a special scheme for the NATO Tiger Meet 2019. Khalem Chapman

Announced on March 4, the Deutschen Bundestages stated that the upgrade was part of another big step for the modernisation of the Bundeswehr (German armed forces). It stated that “development of the systems is necessary to avoid the effects of obsolescence. The obsolete technology is being replaced to ensure that the Tornado’s capabilities remain uninterrupted until it is replaced.”

The German Air Force is scheduled to retire both variants of its Tornado variable-sweep wing fighter-bomber fleet in 2025. The IDS (interdictor/strike) version is currently employed in a ground/maritime attack role and operates Germany’s nuclear mission, whereas the (electronic combat role) ECR is used in a suppression/destruction of enemy air defence (SEAD/DEAD) role.

Panavia Tornado IDS - serial 45+71 (c/n 678/GS214/4271)
Panavia Tornado IDS - serial 45+71 (c/n 678/GS214/4271) - belonging to TLG 33, on display at RIAT 2015, sporting a special tail scheme celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) - which comprised of Germany, Italy and the UK. Khalem Chapman 

The platform entered Luftwaffe service in 1980, replacing its fleet of F-104 Starfighter aircraft. In recent years, the number of Tornado operators has started to dwindle, starting with the Royal Air Force’s retirement of its GR4 aircraft last March. Alongside Germany, the remaining operators of the type comprise of Italy and Saudi Arabia.

As of March 2020, the air arm operates 50 Tornado IDS aircraft, 15 IDS(T) ground attack trainers and 20 examples of the ECR variant. The German Air Force is currently holding a replacement competition of off-the-shelf platforms to decide the Tornado’s successor. This contest is between the Eurofighter Typhoon – which Germany is already an operator of – and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Both respective offers are set to be accompanied by an electronic warfare (EW) platform to augment the procurement and operate in the SEAD/DEAD role in the ECR’s absence. Airbus announced its bid to provide Germany with the Typhoon ECR and Boeing Defense will likely include the EA-18G Growler with its F/A-18E/F package.

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