Cassidian flight tests first upgraded Tornado aircraft
The German Air Force's first production model of the upgraded Tornado combat aircraft fleet has undergone testing of the latest capability standard, Avionics Software System Tornado Ada (ASSTA) 3.0, at Cassidian's facility in Germany.
The primary goal of the maiden flight test was to evaluate the functionality of its new electronic improvements in flight operations.
Cassidian has started the development of the ASSTA 3.1 version of the aircraft's electronic systems, including replacing monochrome TV / tabs with colour displays and integrating the MIDS basic package with a full mission control / situation display.
The latest capability installation also includes apart from MIDS, a key element in the capability enhancement of the Tornado, a radio device, a digital video and voice recorder (DVDR), and the integrated laser joint direct attack munition (LJDAM).
MIDS uses Link 16 communication standard (STANAG 5516) for the exchange of tactical data and enables crew to exchange not only flight, mission and navigation data but also voice commands, encrypted and in real time, with other aircraft and ground stations.
Cassidian, on behalf of Panavia, will carry out the Tornado upgrade project which includes providing avionics, communication system, flight control computer and aircraft's entire computer system with support from Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems.
The Tornado aircraft is equipped with an advanced sensor and defensive aids suite for low-level, deep-penetration missions in all weathers by day and night.
German Air Force Tornado aircraft will be equipped with IRIS-T infrared-guided air-to-air missile, currently under development by BGT.
The ASSTA 3.0 software will be finalised and certified in the next few months, following which the upgraded Tornado will be delivered to German Air Force in mid 2012.
The aircraft are expected to remain in service until beyond 2025.
Image: Cassidian conducts maiden flight test on German Air Force Tornado aircraft upgraded with ASSTA 3.0 standard. Photo: Cassidian.