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Thread: The performance of Tornado F.3 ADV

  1. #1
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    The performance of Tornado F.3 ADV

    The Tornado F.3 ADV, despite being retired in 2011, still remains one of the most underrated and controversial fighters. Projected as a pure interceptor, it faced threats and missions for which it was not designed. Despite early teething problems of the program, which contributed to its poor reputation, at the end of its career Tornado F.3 was a very capable system, able to hold its own in exercises against e.g. teen fighters. Recently, I came across the "Tornado F3: A Navigator's Eye on Britain's Last Interceptor" by David Gladhill and an interview he gave to hushkit.net https://hushkit.net/2016/05/01/inter...m-and-tornado/. After the lecture, I started to wonder, how big of an upgrade, in terms of performance and handling, was the ADV version over standard IDS/GR.1? The main differences between them were:
    - ADV had a 21 inch plug inserted behind the cockpit, which was necessary to fit Skyflash missiles and to increase the fuel load by 600 kg. It turned out that "the elongated fuselage proved much more aerodynamic and improved the handling, particularly in the transonic region". Also, it greatly improved the visibility from the cockpit.
    - The nose cone was greatly elongated to accommodate the Foxhunter radar.
    - The Kruger flaps were deleted, instead the area of glove vanes was increased.
    - The RB199 Mk 101/103 (66.01/71.2 kN) were replaced by uprated (and better suited for high-level operations), Mk 104, with 75 kN thrust, although I've seen values from 73 to 82.8 kN, what leads to the question, what was the actual figure?
    - The automatic sweep control was built in (AWSMD), although it was never cleared for use by RAF. On the other hand, it was used in Saudi's ADVs with a very good effects.
    - The controls were adjusted, to provide more "fighter-like" feeling.
    - The empty weight of ADV was increased from 13890 kg (GR.4) to 14500 kg. The loaded weight of ADV was 21546 kg, including 5600 kg of internal fuel. As a result, depending on the thrust figure, the TWR of ADV with 50% of fuel varied from 0.79 to quite respectable 0.90.

    Unfortunately, I was not able to find the manual of ADV. Instead, I was able to get some of the E-M diagrams of the early IDS (Mk 101). Despite the low thrust and lack of the ADV's modifications, the turn rates do not look that bad (data for wing sweep 25 and 45 deg):
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    For drag index 0, at 5000 feet the sustained turn rate for IDS is 12.3 deg/s at 25 deg, while the instantaneous one is about 17 deg/s (18 deg/s at 45 deg). The only number I was able to find for ADV is a comment from the Gladhill's book "At low level, this gave Tornado F.3 a respectable 19 degrees per second turn rate, although this fell somewhat short of the 26 degrees per second for an F-16", but no further details were provided.

    Another interesting aspect of the ADV performance is its acceleration. Rick Peacock-Edwards (the first Tornado F.3 squadron commander), stated that at low level the acceleration from 250 to 600 kts took approximately 25 seconds. For comparison, the acceleration from 600 to 1300 km/h at 1000 meters, takes 23.9 s for the legacy Su-27, what suggest that the Tornado F.3 was surprisingly competitive in terms of acceleration.

    So my questions are as follows:

    - What were the actual figures for thrust of Mk 104? Did they change during the service time?
    - Does anyone knows how the AWSMD system worked? Was it programmed like in Tomcat for maximum SPE, or some other criteria was applied?
    - How big of an upgrade was the ADV over IDS, in terms of turn performance/acceleration? And also, does anyone have the numbers for F-4 Phantom, the aircraft it replaced, to provide some context? Of course I think everybody is aware that Tornado F.3 was not competitive in terms of turn performance with teen fighters and MiG-29/Su-27, but if anyone has some additional info on this topic e.g. from exercises, it will also be interesting to hear.
    - For years the EJ200 was viewed as the replacement of RB199 in Tornado fleet. Is there any pinformation, what type of improvement was expected? And if no, are there any ways to provide an educated guess?

  2. #2
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    I can't find any hard figures on a first look but I'll check my books again later.

    What I do remember us being told on a visit to Leuchars soon after the ADV arrived:
    1. It could out-accelerate anything in NATO short of an F-15
    2. The stretched fuselage had lower drag than the IDS; in fact it was proposed to Japan as an IDS+ for their F-X competition
    3. It could out-turn the UK-Phantom at all speeds and altitudes and the Lightning in some regimes
    4. It could out-roll a Hunter and catch it in a scissor

    Instantaneous turn rate should be similar for the IDS and ADV since that measure is lift-limited. Sustained turn should favour the ADV with more thrust.

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    Whoops...Inertia plays its part in ITR. There might have been some discrepancies b/w the two.

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    While there's no doubt that the RB199 was a handicap in high altitude performance, it was actually a decent engine given the F.3's intended role (especially over water patrol of G-I-UK gap and North sea).

    The choice of a high bypass turbofan was critical to provide range and endurance, but those early turbofans had comparatively poor performance at higher altitude (not exactly an issue considering the RB199 was initially fitted to a low level strike aircraft). The F100 is really the first turbofan I can think of that provided a decent mix of endurance and high altitude performance, and it experienced significant teething troubles.

    I would say it was similar to the F-14A in that the engines, which at the time enabled the aircraft to be a long range interceptor, were a handicap as a fighter.

    already posted above by OP-the Hushkit interview gives a very fair overview of the aircraft:
    https://hushkit.net/2016/05/01/inter...m-and-tornado/
    Last edited by FBW; 20th April 2018 at 14:08.

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    It all depends on the potential targets for the F.3. In most cases it would be Warsaw Pact strike planes such as Su-20, Su-25 and Su-24, and of course, Tu-22M. I don't think high-altitude performance would needed against such targets. MiG-25RB might be a different situation.

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    Interesting, I didn't know the Tornado was even offered to Japan. The IDS and ADV combo would have been great for Japan since their Air Force is more or less doing just two things.. interception and maritime strike.. exactly what the Tornado twins excelled at.

    the ADV would have looked great in Japanese colors (couldn't find any what pics for that one)

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    The Japanese FS-X ADV would have had the outer wing points activated for IR AAMs, plus antishipping missiles inboard. I can't remember if it was to retain the fuselage MRAAM recesses; II think it did as I recall a model with 10 or 12 AAMs which in the pre-Flanker days seemed incredible.

    The late-80s were bleak for Panavia; Italy had stopped at 100 ( declined a batch of 30 more ), the Jordanian and Turkish orders fell through and the USAFE decided against the ECR Wild Weasel.
    Last edited by Cherry Ripe; 22nd April 2018 at 15:33.

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    What I do remember us being told on a visit to Leuchars soon after the ADV arrived:
    1. It could out-accelerate anything in NATO short of an F-15
    So, what about the stories of Bears out-accelerating ADV's?

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    So, what about the stories of Bears out-accelerating ADV's?
    In dry-thrust, yes. Rather embarrassing but the RB.199 was wheasy at altitude, as noted earlier. But bring in partial reheat and all that lovely bypass air gave a good kick. The ADV could also chase-down nearly anything at sea-level, rumoured to include F-111s.

    Also I noticed whilst browsing books today that the outer hardpoints of the ADV were plumbed, and with pylons installed could in theory carry another pair of Hindenburg tanks. Or an AMRAAM each, or triple-clusters of ASRAAM!

  10. #10
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    The Japanese FS-X ADV would have had the outer wing points activated for IR AAMs, plus antishipping missiles inboard. I can't remember if it was to retain the fuselage MRAAM recesses; II think it did as I recall a model with 10 or 12 AAMs which in the pre-Flanker days seemed incredible.

    The late-80s were bleak for Panavia; Italy had stopped at 100 ( declined a batch of 30 more ), the Jordanian and Turkish orders fell through and the USAFE decided against the ECR Wild Weasel.
    that's interesting, so the ADV could carry AShMs.. then that would mean they wouldn't need the IDS version since Japan's ground attack is more or less limited to anti shipping and anti submarine duties

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    In theory yes the ADV could carry anything the IDS could except JP233 and MW-1, but in practice it was only cleared with the usual AAMs.

    With a much better fuselage fineness-ratio it had the aerodynamics that the IDS lacked, and so a similar stretch was proposed for the Tornado IDS 2000 upgrade.
    Last edited by Cherry Ripe; 24th April 2018 at 07:58.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherry Ripe View Post
    Also I noticed whilst browsing books today that the outer hardpoints of the ADV were plumbed, and with pylons installed could in theory carry another pair of Hindenburg tanks. Or an AMRAAM each, or triple-clusters of ASRAAM!
    I doubt that very much. Those tanks are about 2 tons, and all an IDS can carry on stations 1/2 are countermeasure pods. What would be the point of strengthening the wings for a capability never used.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cherry Ripe View Post
    In theory yes the ADV could carry anything the IDS could except JP233 and MW-1, but in practice it was only cleared with the usual AAMs.
    Carry maybe but use? Without A/G avionics such as a dedicated radar the ADV is a pretty limited A/G platform.
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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    Cherry Ripe
    Also I noticed whilst browsing books today that the outer hardpoints of the ADV were plumbed, and with pylons installed could in theory carry another pair of Hindenburg tanks. Or an AMRAAM each, or triple-clusters of ASRAAM!
    Interesting, do have the titles to hand?

    I certainly saw a painting in one of my rather wonderful Salamander books from my youth of an F3 with triple Asraams on the outers. But as I recall some of the loadouts and information in those books were optimistic. Most NATO planes were pictured with mutiple Wasp launchers for example, and that didn't even reach service.
    Rule zero: don't be on fire

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    After some additional search I found some Russian comparisons of Su-27 vs other fighters. Unfortunately, I have no idea for what fuel load were they calculated, the payloads were 2xR-73 and 2xR-27 for Su-27 and 4xSkyFlash and 2xAIM-9 for Tornado. The comparison chart for Su-27 vs ADV looks as follows:
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    At 200 meters, the sustained turn rate is slightly above 12 deg/s, while instantaneous is about 19.5 deg/s. So basically it looks quite credible, when compared with the data for IDS from the opening post, although no real improvement between IDS and ADV can be seen, what is a bit surprising (The data for IDS was given at 5000 feet, but for the drag index 0). I am also not sure how precise is the F.2 name, if it's really the chart for this specific variant (which was not equipped with uprated Mk. 104 engine), or just a common name for all ADVs.

    To provide some way of data verification, I also post the comparison of Su-27 vs F-15 (with 4xAIM-9) from the same source. Maybe someone who is more familiar with E-M diagrams of F-15 will be able to verify its correctness:
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    I
    As for the configuration with 4 2250l tanks - I'm almost sure that it was never used in service. Also, the benefit of such configuration would be marginal, as even for the case of 2 Hinderburg tanks, the increase of drag was extremely high, drastically decreasing the operational ceiling. In fact, fuel from one of these tanks was just enough to offset the drag increase. I guess that if you put 4 such tanks, something like 2.5 of them would be wasted on offsetting the drag alone.

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    Tagged. This is going to be good.

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    I found this fragment in the book by David Gledhill, concerning the fuel tanks: "The internal fuel capacity was 5,600 kg, but two 1,500-litre tanks could be carried on the inboard pylons or replaced by two 2,250-litre tanks to supplement the fuel load, increasing the load to 7,250 kg. For ferry fit, two 1,500-litre external tanks could be fitted to the forward under-fuselage stations, although carrying and firing missiles in that fit became problematic."

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