Italian Tornado deployment to Büchel

The Italian Air Force deployed 6 Panavia Tornado aircraft to Büchel Air Base July 12-23. The crews were able to train electronic warfare at the POLYGONE Range southwest of Kaiserslautern.  The Multinational Aircrew Electronic Warfare Tactics Facility Polygone – POLYGONE is a trinatioanal training area used by France, Germany and the USA.

These 6 aircraft arrived from the 6° Stormo “Alfredo Fusco” from Ghedi:

  • Panavia Torando A-200C MM7081 6-57 154 Gruppo
  • Panavia Tornado EA-200CD MM7019 6-02 155 Gruppo
  • Panavia Tornado EA-200CD MM7054 6-100 155 Gruppo
  • Panavia Tornado EA-200CD MM7059 6-66 155 Gruppo
  • Panavia Tornado EA-200CD MM7062 6-74 155 Gruppo
  • Panavia Tornado EA-200CD MM7068 6-67 155 Gruppo

The focus of the exercise was on the SEAD (Suppression of Enenemy Air Defence) role, i.e. suppressing or destroying enemy air defenses. This capability can currently only be provided to NATO by the Italian and German air forces in Europe (with the exception of the USAFE’s 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem).

The Tornado ECR, which is specialized for this role, is the result of a requirement from the German Air Force. Following the series production of the Panavia Tornado IDS, 35 newly produced Tornado ECRs were delivered. The German SEAD specialists are stationed at TaktLwG 51 “Immelmann” in Schleswig-Jagel. Although these air vehicles are formally only a modification of the Tornado IDS, they have some special features such as:

  • RB199 Mk. 105 engine
  • Emitter Locator System (ELS)
  • Foreward Looking Infrared Sensor
  • Modified air conditioning system to cool the additional electronic equipment on board-

The 16 Italian ECR Tornados (correct designation EA-200B or EA-200D and EA-200CD for the aircraft with mid-life update RET 8) were realized between 1992 and 1994 by retrofitting already produced IDS. Thus, they also use the RB199 Mk. 103 engine.

The main armament of the ECRs is the AGM-88 HARM. The German Air Force can currently only use the AGM-88B version, while Italian aircraft have already been cleared to use the AGM-88E AARGM (Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile). The procurement and installation of the German AARGM is already underway and is expected to be ready for use from 2023.

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