Tornado F3 finished, now available to buy

January 31, 2014 | Aviation, Aviation Restoration, Company News

In a quiet corner of  North Yorkshire there lurks a 61 feet long brute of an interceptor, designed to bring down nuclear armed Soviet Backfires, Bears and Blinders  and she could be yours for a fraction of the original multi-million pound price-tag.  After a 16 month rebuild and restoration by Jet Art Aviation Panavia Tornado F3 ADV serial ZE256 is now up for sale and is in fact the only privately owned interceptor version (or ‘Air Defence Variant’) of the Tornado in the world.  If you want an impressive exhibit  then this is it.  Dominating a museum display,  reaching for the sky as an awe-inspiring pintle mounted ‘gate guardian’ or simply ensuring your business gets a whole new level of attention the F3 will turn heads wherever she resides.  In addition, having sold several aircraft of differing types to happy customers around the world we are also able to offer a professional delivery and reassembly package for the successful buyer.  In view of the fact that this is the only F3 available to buy we expect this aircraft to sell very quickly and interested parties are asked to contact us ASAP for further information but read on for a potted history of the F3 and spend a bit of time browsing the galleries we’ve uploaded for your viewing pleasure!

The Aircraft

This particular F3 is an ex UK Royal Air Force example that served with 29 Sqn, 5 Sqn, 56(R) Sqn and finally 111 Sqn.  Notable in its service history is a stint as the peronal mount of the Boss of 56 Squadron and visits to Malaysia and Alaska on exercise, as well as providing the backdrop to the decommisioning ceremony of 29 Squadron. However we’ve finished her off as ZE343 ‘DZ’ of XI (F) Squadron, albeit with one side still marked up with her original serial.  It is now offered as an externally complete static display aircraft with the cockpit also fitted out with 2 Martin Baker Mk 10A ejection seats . Additionally, this aircraft is a ‘Twin Stick’ example with full flying controls fitted in both the front and rear cockpit.

The Tornado F3 was a long range interceptor / fighter aircraft built by the European Panavia consortium as a development of the original GR1 ground attack version and was operated by the UK, Italy and Saudi Arabia.  Tornado F3s protected the UK  during the latter days of the cold war by patrolling the skies over the North Sea against incursions by Russian aircraft (and anything else from light aircraft to UFOs!) into British air space . Taking over from the legendary Lightning these aircraft stood for many years on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) ready to be scrambled to intercept targets and received the unofficial but very relevant title ‘Guardian of the Skies’. Tornado F3 aircraft operating from Saudi Arabia in an unsung but vital role also patrolled the no fly zones above Iraq  for over 10 years. Towards the end of Op Resinate South and Op Southern Watch  the true potential of the Tornado ADV was finally realized after spending much of its career being maligned for its  lack of dog-fighting skills. What many forgot, or chose to ignore was the fact that the F3 was designed to be a stand-off interceptor and as such could dispatch its adversaries long before the dogfighting stage. During the latter days of policing the no-fly zone it was these strengths that  resulted in British Tornado F3s leading the entire package of 50 plus aircraft flying into Iraqi airspace on a daily basis. They were considered superior at target acquisition and able to track and engage multiple targets at greater distance than any other aircraft then operated by the coalition  (F-15, F-16, F-14 etc). This was primarily down to the immensely powerful Foxhunter radar which despite its age and the odd serviceability issue delivered outstanding performance at long range.  The RAF Tornado F3 aircraft were retired from service  in March 2011.

My time on a Tornado F3 squadron

For me this project has a personal touch as I worked on Tornado F3s as a technician in the Royal Air Force. Having slaved away on many a nightshift fixing and maintaining the F3’s I felt it was important that this example was saved and restored for posterity. I would describe the F3 as a complicated and temperamental aircraft however when everything worked it was highly capable. The true potential of the aircraft was highlighted to me in 2001 when 11(F) Sqn took part in Exercise Cope Thunder in Alaska. I was working as a ‘Liney’ on the flight line when I saw in the Boss’s jet after it came back early from a sortie. Thinking they’d  had to return early due the aircraft becoming unserviceable (which wasn’t unusual) I asked what the problem was . “Not enough missiles”  was the reply from the grinning Navigator. In mock combat flown against aggressors they had simulated 9 kills having fired all 8 missiles and emptied the cannon to get a guns kill on one target at close range! To me, although replaced by a more modern and in many ways much more capable aircraft in the form of the Eurofighter Typhoon the Tornado F3 could still be classed (if all its systems were actually running and working) as a highly capable long range weapons platform that little could compete with at long range…..

Preserving an F3 has become a personal mission as the majority of the breed are now being broken for spares to support the GR4 fleet which will be operated until 2018 or beyond.  Our aircraft escaped this fate after retiring from flying service as she was used for instructional purposes at RAF Leuchars being used for ejection seat installation and weapons load training. She was known as the ‘hangar queen’ and was the last F3 to leave the 111 Sqn HAS site in July 2011 signifying the end of an era.  It is likely to be one of the only Tornado F3s that will ever be available to buy.  As such this represents a unique acquisition opportunity. Last flown March 2003, total airframe hours on fuselage:  3267 Hrs.

Aircraft is  decommissioned, not airworthy and sold for static display / museum use only. Aircraft is EX UK MOD Surplus equipment. No Engines or APU fitted however gearboxes are still installed and the cockpit is very complete.  Our detailed picture galleries below should clearly illustrate the condition and completeness of the aircraft. Full technical specification is available on request . Export licence will be required for international shipping. Please contact us for further details.


Tornado F3 Gallery

Tornado F3 Cockpit Gallery

Tornado F3 Close Up Detail Gallery

A special thanks to Chris North Photography for the photo shoot that supplied these images.