During the 1991 Gulf War, military planners made the elimination of Iraq's air defenses a top priority. At the start of Operation Desert Storm (called Operation Granby by the British), Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado GR1 aircraft attacked Iraqi air bases at low-level with Hunting JP233 anti-runway weapons and suppressed enemy air defenses. Afterward, GR1 aircrews flew medium-level missions using 1,000-pound bombs. At the end of the conflict, they used Paveway II laser-guided bombs against other strategic targets. Flying more than 1,500 operational sorties, mostly at night, RAF GR1 aircrews played an important role in forcing the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and the RAF lost six GR1s in combat.
Development of the Tornado began in 1968, when the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy initiated a collaborative project to produce a low-level, supersonic aircraft. Panavia Aircraft, a new tri-national company established in Germany, built the variable sweep wing aircraft, and the first prototype flew on Aug. 14, 1974. Operational deliveries began in July 1980.
Tornados could carry a wide range of weapons, including the Air-Launched Anti-Radar Missile (ALARM) for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and the Paveway II and III laser-guided bombs (LGB). The RAF also modified a number of Tornados to carry the Sea Eagle anti-shipping missile. This variant became the GR1B.
The aircraft on display flew with the RAF's 17 Squadron from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where it sported desert camouflage and the name Miss Behavin'. The aircraft is currently painted as an aircraft assigned to 617 Squadron. It came to the museum in October 2002 as a donation from the RAF.
Crew: Pilot and navigator in tandem seating
Armament: Two IWKA-Mauser 27mm cannon, two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and 18,000 lbs. of ordnance
Engines: Two Turbo Union RB199-103 turbofans with 15,800 lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: 1,452 mph at 36,000 ft.
Wingspan: 45 ft. 7.25 in. (wings fully spread); 28 ft. 2.5 in. (68° sweep)
Length: 54 ft. 9.5 in.
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