Friday pictures: Tornado vapor

I know it’s been too long since I did this. I regret that. So many great shots to post, so many Fridays gone to waste. Yet life is full, and this can slide with no harm to anything, and so it has. Mea culpa.

Today we look at a Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 pitching up at high speed, reheat engaged on both of its RB199 engines. Such power! This image was captured by Flickr user F6MAN, to whom I extend my thanks.

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This aircraft grew out of the same 1960’s fascination with variable-geometry wings that spawned the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23 Flogger, and the Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer, among others. Dassault tinkered around with swing wings on its Mirage G, G4, and G8 series of prototypes, which partially led to the Tornado. Wikipedia gives a useful timeline of the various studies that led to the Tornado – the AFVG, the MRA, the MRCA, etc. It is amazing to me to see how long it takes to move from desired capability to requirement to design to prototype to service introduction. The Tornado first flew in 1974, after almost a decade of development, and the last one rolled off of the line in 1998. It is operated by Britain, Germany, Italy, and Saudi Arabia, who together bought 992 airframes. At one point early in the effort, Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands all showed interest as well – Canada went on the operate the Boeing (McDonnell Douglas/Northrop F-18 Hornet), and the others adopted the Lockheed (General Dynamics) F-16 Fighting Falcon.

To see previous appearances of the Tornado in this series, please click here, here, or here.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

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