Tuesday, 25 August 2009

New RAF Tornado contract keeps fast jet flying

The Royal Air Force Tornado GR4/4A fleet is to benefit from a £28M Mid-Life Fatigue Programme (MLFP) contract, awarded to Panavia, which is aimed at seeing the fleet through to its planned Out-of-Service Date (OSD) in 2025.

The Tornado GR4 aircraft remains the most capable ground attack platform within the RAF inventory. Recent investments in state of the art avionics, defensive aids, precision weapons and reconnaissance systems have ensured the aircraft remains a potent and flexible offensive air platform. Sustainment of this robust capability is vital to the RAF and to its successful involvement in current and future operations.

This Phase 2 programme follows a concept phase that established the best way of dealing with aircraft fatigue issues identified during routine monitoring, and will involve technical demonstrations to assess the best method of delivering them. Its outcome will inform Phase 3, which will seek approval to roll-out the programme across the fleet, ensuring that the fatigue life of key areas of the aircraft’s front and centre fuselage are extended to OSD.

The MFLP contract was awarded through the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) to Panavia. The work will be carried out by BAE Systems at its Warton plant in Lancashire, involving some 30 technical staff. Design and development will be carried out at EADS in Manching, Germany.

The Phase 2 programme will see the design and trial installation of structural modifications into one in-service aircraft on a trial basis, taking about three years to complete. At that stage a final decision will be taken on progressing to Phase 3 which, if approved, could see the modifications embodied in 40 aircraft at a cost of about £207M.

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