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Tornado GR.4’s were GR.1’s at one time?


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As I understand it, Tornado GR.4’s are upgraded GR.1’s.  Meaning they were sent back for updates and are not newly constructed airframes. Is this correct? Or am I wrong and they were new aircraft and the GR.1’s were put out to pasture. Or perhaps a mix of new and remanufactured type the F-14D and the F-14(R)?  Lots of information pointing out the differences, but not much clarity on where GR.4’s came from.  

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5 hours ago, is it windy yet? said:

As I understand it, Tornado GR.4’s are upgraded GR.1’s.  Meaning they were sent back for updates and are not newly constructed airframes. Is this correct? Or am I wrong and they were new aircraft and the GR.1’s were put out to pasture. Or perhaps a mix of new and remanufactured type the F-14D and the F-14(R)?  Lots of information pointing out the differences, but not much clarity on where GR.4’s came from.  

 

All GR4 and GR4A's were updated GR1 and GR1A's.

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9 hours ago, is it windy yet? said:

A remanufactured F-14A. Old A’s were sent back and upgraded to D standard. While the F-14D was an all new aircraft of the production line. 

 

Oh so you mean just the 18 F-14Ds that were made from As.. There's not an R designation, not even for re-manufactured A to D configurations. Kinda had me confused there for a bit.

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Off topic bit: those Tomcats were marked as F-14D(R). Designation that I believe was only for administrative purposes but that anyway was carried on the aircraft above the serial number

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3 hours ago, Giorgio N said:

Off topic bit: those Tomcats were marked as F-14D(R). Designation that I believe was only for administrative purposes but that anyway was carried on the aircraft above the serial number

Was there a difference on technical level? Or were the parts zero houred during the mod?

After all, the D models, were the ones retired last...

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16 hours ago, torqueofthedevil said:

Whereas none of the GR1Bs got upgraded - that niche capability just disappeared 

Checking the Tornado Production list it does appear that some of the GR.1B were upgraded to GR.4 although none were equipped with Sea Eagle in squadron service.

 

An answer given in Parliament in July 2000 explains that this was because "Software development work to allow the Sea Eagle missile to be launched by Tornado GR4 aircraft was incomplete at the time the missile was withdrawn from service and further work was halted".       

 

Tornado GR.4 began to enter front-line service from around 1998 and withdrawal of Sea Eagle from RAF and Royal Navy service was completed by early 2000 although 12 and 617 Squadrons who held the Maritime role did not exchange their last GR.1B for GR.4 until 2001 and 2002 respectively.

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Also worth pointing out that at some point GR.4As lost both the A suffix and their reconnaissance role. I believe it was because the RAPTOR pod was capable of being fitted to any GR.4, and replaced the GR.4A's internal fit as the standard recce equipment. It was in service by 2003, with the ex-GR.4As being spread around the TGR Force afterwards.

 

And why RAPTOR was not integrated onto Typhoon has always puzzled me. But that's a different matter.

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On ‎3‎/‎31‎/‎2020 at 3:18 AM, is it windy yet? said:

As I understand it, Tornado GR.4’s are upgraded GR.1’s.  Meaning they were sent back for updates and are not newly constructed airframes. Is this correct? Or am I wrong and they were new aircraft and the GR.1’s were put out to pasture. Or perhaps a mix of new and remanufactured type the F-14D and the F-14(R)?  Lots of information pointing out the differences, but not much clarity on where GR.4’s came from.  

 

Yes, you can read about it here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panavia_Tornado#GR4

 

It is common in today's age for many aircraft to be upgraded with more modern technology, even the Space Shuttle get it. But only as long as the airframe is sound, and not showing serious stress. If airframe is still safe and within limits, aircraft could be upgraded, otherwise if airframe shows too much signs of stress (i.e.: cracks in the wing, or anywhere else), then it is not going to get the upgrade.

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8 minutes ago, Major Eazy said:

 

Yes, you can read about it here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panavia_Tornado#GR4

 

It is common in today's age for many aircraft to be upgraded with more modern technology, even the Space Shuttle get it. But only as long as the airframe is sound, and not showing serious stress. If airframe is still safe and within limits, aircraft could be upgraded, otherwise if airframe shows too much signs of stress (i.e.: cracks in the wing, or anywhere else), then it is not going to get the upgrade.

Unless of course there is a manufacturer repair scheme to make good any structural issues and it will then be part of the fleet and get upgraded. Thankfully structural issues are few and far between these days.

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Just now, Agent K said:

Unless of course there is a manufacturer repair scheme to make good any structural issues and it will then be part of the fleet and get upgraded. Thankfully structural issues are few and far between these days.

Well, yeah that's true, it does depend how serious the cracks are, It does depends on if the manufacturer can repair or not, if it is worth the repairs, and all that.

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Even in service, cracks could be repaired, or at least lived with, given a number of treatments including drilling a small hole at the tip of the crack to ease the stress concentration.  As said above, it depends how serious it is, and what it is in (two options for the same thing, really).

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3 hours ago, Truro Model Builder said:

 

And why RAPTOR was not integrated onto Typhoon has always puzzled me. But that's a different matter.

Size, weight, cost? In that order!

Typhoon actually was not meant as a Tornado replacement... 

That is why it has some problems carring large stores efficiently together with tanks...

 

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3 hours ago, Truro Model Builder said:

Also worth pointing out that at some point GR.4As lost both the A suffix and their reconnaissance role. I believe it was because the RAPTOR pod was capable of being fitted to any GR.4, and replaced the GR.4A's internal fit as the standard recce equipment. It was in service by 2003, with the ex-GR.4As being spread around the TGR Force afterwards.

Did the photo walkround on the GR.4 for Andy Evans' Air Data 2 Panavia Tornado IDS and the pilot showing me around explained that the former GR.4A had been spread around the operational squadrons for routine training and exercises to keep the hours down on the aircraft built originally as bombers but were not very popular with the crews on deployments.      To avoid centre-of-gravity issues the existing internal recce equipment was inhibited and retained which meant that there was barely enough room internally for a set of safety tags and covers far less personal kit which had to either be stored around the cockpit which was not ideal or travel with the support crew and possibly end up somewhere else if there were unforeseen diversions.     The straight bomber GR.4 had by comparison several places where personal gear etc. could be stowed including the ammunition bay.

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7 hours ago, Truro Model Builder said:

Also worth pointing out that at some point GR.4As lost both the A suffix and their reconnaissance role. I believe it was because the RAPTOR pod was capable of being fitted to any GR.4, and replaced the GR.4A's internal fit as the standard recce equipment. It was in service by 2003, with the ex-GR.4As being spread around the TGR Force afterwards.

 

And why RAPTOR was not integrated onto Typhoon has always puzzled me. But that's a different matter.

 

Still called them GR.4As when i worked on them for 3 years, needed to know what they were, as some else has said they still had all the reconnaissance equipment inside which meant they couldn't do certain things. One thing they never did was go to Cyprus on Op shader, having no gun was one reason for that.

 

RAPTOR pods were designed specially for Tornado, hence the name. RAPTOR stands for Reconnaissane Airborne Pod Tornado. Remember hearing a year or 2 ago that they were or were at some point designing a Typhoon version of RAPTOR.

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On 4/9/2020 at 4:14 PM, torqueofthedevil said:

Not true for helicopters! 

What is the official reason for the Merlin trouble and its transfer fron the Army?

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4 hours ago, exdraken said:

 

What is the official reason for the Merlin trouble and its transfer fron the Army?

It was never transferred from the Army, but the RAF, and to be honest from my understanding the RAF did not really want the helicopter in the first place

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On 4/11/2020 at 11:48 AM, Jabba said:

It was never transferred from the Army, but the RAF, and to be honest from my understanding the RAF did not really want the helicopter in the first place

 The Merlin for the RAF was most likely a 'political' acquisition to bolster employment in the UK Aviation Industry.

 

Always seemed a bit odd that despite having all brand new Merlins that the RAF preference has been for keeping its 1960s-era Puma along with a few second-hand purchases and rebuilding them although if reports in the aviation press can be believed over many years Puma is the helicopter of choice for some elements of the army.      Had the Commando Sea Kings not been getting retired then financial constraints would have probably seen the RAF either putting its Merlins into storage or up for sale.

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The Merlin was forced on the RAF, which had a liking for the Blackhawk. But it doesn't help that the RAF seems to think that the Chinook is the answer for all things rotary, and I have a sneaking suspicion that when the Puma goes there will be some more Chinooks bought. The Navy were happy to get the HC.3s from the RAF, as it was the only way they were likely to get replacements for the Junglies. They would have liked the Osprey, but at the price there was no chance.

 

 

 

 

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On 4/14/2020 at 12:13 PM, Truro Model Builder said:

The Merlin was forced on the RAF, which had a liking for the Blackhawk. But it doesn't help that the RAF seems to think that the Chinook is the answer for all things rotary, and I have a sneaking suspicion that when the Puma goes there will be some more Chinooks bought. The Navy were happy to get the HC.3s from the RAF, as it was the only way they were likely to get replacements for the Junglies. They would have liked the Osprey, but at the price there was no chance.

 

 

 

 

The RAF doesn't think that - but the Army does. And while new Chinooks will be bought in the next few years, that's to replace the oldest Chinooks in the inventory, not the Puma. The Puma will be replaced in due course by something in the same class. 

 

And it's not strange at all that the RAF kept the Puma and got rid of the Merlin. The cliché about the Merlin being the size and cost of a Chinook but the capability of a Puma isn't strictly accurate - but it's not far off! Just look at what the Pumas are doing on Op Toral to see why the RAF is better off with Puma over Merlin. And the fact that the Puma airframe is much older doesn't really matter in this case - it's not as if the Merlin has ever been blessed with stunning serviceability rates. NB it's not as if it was the RAF's decision back in 2010, or that the decision was made purely on capability grounds, but it was in most respects a reasonable attempt to rationalize fleets across the services given the impending retirement of the Sea King. 

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2 hours ago, torqueofthedevil said:

The RAF doesn't think that - but the Army does. And while new Chinooks will be bought in the next few years, that's to replace the oldest Chinooks in the inventory, not the Puma. The Puma will be replaced in due course by something in the same class. 

 

And it's not strange at all that the RAF kept the Puma and got rid of the Merlin. The cliché about the Merlin being the size and cost of a Chinook but the capability of a Puma isn't strictly accurate - but it's not far off! Just look at what the Pumas are doing on Op Toral to see why the RAF is better off with Puma over Merlin. And the fact that the Puma airframe is much older doesn't really matter in this case - it's not as if the Merlin has ever been blessed with stunning serviceability rates. NB it's not as if it was the RAF's decision back in 2010, or that the decision was made purely on capability grounds, but it was in most respects a reasonable attempt to rationalize fleets across the services given the impending retirement of the Sea King. 

The Army have long wanted the Blackhawk, including very recently when the Wildcat was being developed, but Lord Dannatt, then CGS put his foot down and said absolutely not as it would be flown by the RAF and not the AAC. No matter that it could carry a lot more a lot further, was actually cheaper and was what the guys getting shot at actually wanted. Not the only questionable procurement decision he was involved with, but that's another story.

 

And yes, I know that the RAF are looking to get new Chinooks to replace their oldest aircraft and send Bravo November to Hendon, but I still think that the Puma will probably be replaced by more Chinooks. The Chinook lobby has a very loud voice, and Puma is currently slated for retirement in 2025. It may go on to 2035 if the decision is taken to replace both it and Merlin HM.2 and HC.4 with a common airframe.

 

I think you are being a bit harsh on the Merlin, though. There were indeed a lot of serviceability issues, particularly involving the ASW fleet, largely because the MoD tried to save a few quid on not procuring enough spares when they negotiated the support contract. Fairly typical behaviour; buy a multi-million pound fleet of helicopters and have them sitting idle because you wouldn't fork out the extra dosh to actually keep them flying. Furthermore, the HC.3 operated in environmental conditions in Helmand that certainly degraded its performance, but the Puma HC.1 would have found it virtually impossible to do anything under those same conditions. Of course, the Pumas out in Afghanistan now are HC.2s with 40% more engine power and zip about like the proverbial spring chicken.

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