Until delivery of the final aircraft in 1998, Panavia's Tornado Mach 2+ two-seat variable-geometry multirole combat aircraft was Europe's most important military aircraft program. Originally a joint venture by British Aerospace (U.K.), MBB (West Germany) and Aeritalia (Italy) (all q.v.) now Alenia of Italy (15 percent), Daimler-Benz Aerospace (42.5 percent) and British Aerospace (42.5 percent) - the project has been managed by the specially formed Panavia Aircraft GmbH, based in Germany. Orders covered 781 production IDS Tornadoes for interdictor strike and ECRs for electronic combat and reconnaissance, as 228 IDSs for the RAF, 210 IDS and 35 ECR for the Luftwaffe, 112 IDSs for the German Navy, 99 IDSs for the Italian Air Force, and 96 IDSs for Saudi Arabia.

The first prototype flew August 14,1974, and deliveries began June 1979, with a Trinational Tornado Training Establishment being opened in 1981 to train crews from all participating countries. An air defense variant (ADV) of Tornado first flew in October 1979, developed specifically forthe RAF as a long-range air defense interceptor, changes including GEC-Marconi Foxhunter multimode radar in place of the IDS's ground-mapping radar and terrain-following radar, although some 80 percent commonality was achieved between the types. RAF received 170 ADVs, of which 152 were in current F.Mk 3 improved form. Saudi Arabia was the only other customer, having 24.

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