Tornado production aircraft

The German Air Force has taken delivery of the first two Avionics Software System Tornado Ada (ASSTA) 3.0 upgraded Tornado combat aircraft from Cassidian.

The delivery follows several months of retrofitting, certification and acceptance trials conducted by Cassidian at its facility in Manching, Germany, in cooperation with Bundeswehr Technical Centre 61.

Cassidian Air Services business line head, Erik Jensen, said: "With ASSTA 3.0, the German Tornado fleet is being adapted to meet the Armed Forces’s current requirement for all-weather, high-precision and network-centric capabilities."

The ASSTA 3.0 upgrade involves the integration of a network-centric multifunctional information distribution system (MIDS), a radio device, a digital video and voice recorder (DVDR), and integrated laser joint direct attack munition (LJDAM).

MIDS uses the Link 16 communication standard (STANAG 5516) to enable the crew to exchange tactical data such as exchange flight, mission and navigation data, in addition to voice commands with other aircraft and ground stations.

Cassidian is currently developing the ASSTA 3.1 version of the aircraft’s electronic systems, which includes replacement of monochrome TV/tabs with colour displays and integration of the MIDS basic package with a full mission control/situation display.

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Around 85 operational Tornado aircraft are scheduled to be upgraded to ASSTA 3.0 standard by 2018 and the new aircraft will be used by the German Air Force’s Fighter Bomber Wing 33.

With support from Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems, Cassidian will carry out the Tornado upgrade project which includes providing avionics, communication system, flight control computer and the aircraft’s entire computer system on behalf of Tornado manufacturer Panavia Aircraft.

Image: The first ASSTA 3.0 upgraded Tornado production aircraft during its test flight in Manching, Germany. Photo: courtesy of Cassidian.