This isn't the first time we've featured a jet on PH and it hopefully won't be the last, but somehow the notion of parking a former RAF fighter on the front lawn never loses its lustre.
This particular fighter is of course a Panavia Tornado, specifically a Tornado F3. A twin-engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft, the Tornado was jointly developed by the UK, Italy, and - as it was then - West Germany, and built by Panavia Aircraft, a tri-national consortium consisting of British Aerospace, Aeritalia, and Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm. Its first flight took place on 14th August 1974 and it remains in service today - although its retirement is scheduled for next year upon the arrival of the F35 Lightning II.
While multiple variants of the Tornado have been developed throughout its near four decades in service, the focus of the F3 was on air defence. It therefore never carried names familiar from recent conflicts, like Paveway laser-guided bombs or Brimstone Air-to-Surface missiles, but was still capable of being armed with a smorgasbord of deadly weaponry. Thanks to its 9,000kg payload capacity, the F3 deployed with multiple Short-Range Anti Air Missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-132, as well as British Aerospace Skyflash and AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, stowed on the ten hardpoints beneath its fuselage. And that's before you got to its 27mm Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon.
With a range of 1,151 miles in combat guise - or 2,650 when equipped with four external drop tanks instead of munitions - the Tornado F3 could also reach a top speed of Mach 2.2 (1,490 mph) and an altitude of up to 50,000ft. And continued to do so regularly until its position as defender of the UK's skies was usurped with the arrival of the Eurofighter Typhoon. Hence this example's appearance in the PH classifieds, in search of a good home.
Claimed to be the only privately owned F3 in the world, with the rest of the fleet having been either sent to museums or broken down for GR4-supporting spares, our Spotted looks to be in relatively complete condition. Last flown in March 2003, it retired with 3,267 hours under its belt before presumably spending a number of years going through the various decommissioning processes required to pass a military warplane into civilian hands and sitting in storage. It has now undergone a 16-month rebuild and restoration programme to make sure it's in tip top shape for its new owner.
The seller, Jet Art Aviation, is quite clear about exactly what to expect when you take delivery, stating: "one former careful lady owner (HRH Elizabeth II) maintained this vehicle regardless of cost... Finished in "Matt Sea Grey" with contrasting decals, this two seat sporty little number (54ft long) looks like it's doing MACH 2 stood still. Interior features 5-point harness, fire extinguisher, electrical cut out, ABS, power steering, no less than six rear view mirrors, tape player (I kid you not), multiple radios (VHF, UHF, VOR, VHS, KFC), on board computer, PAS, electronic countermeasures ideal for road rage incidents, glove box and a magic tree air freshener."
As for whether it'll fly: "That's a negative Ghost Rider this jet is now retired and sold for display use only. Cannons have been removed (boo hoo) and we will have to deliver on a low loader." Ah well, you can always sit in it and pretend...
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