Earlier this week, Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company, delivered to the Italian Air Force the Tornado IS86 (MM 7087), the series-lead of 15 aircraft envisaged by Italian Air Force’s IT Basic Full MLU (RET 7) retrofit programme.
The event, held at Italian Air Force’s Ghedi base, was attended by Air Brigade General Enzo Vecciarelli, Combat Forces Commander (CFC), Air Brigade General Roberto Nordio, Chief of the 4th Division of the Air Force’s Staff and by Ghedi base Commander, Col. Francesco Vestito.
The RET 7 contract, concerning the second tranche of airplanes due to undergo retrofitting (the first tranche, called ‘First Upgrade’, involved 18 aircraft and was completed in 2006), is part of the Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) development programme whose aim is to define a configuration capable of assuring the full and improved efficiency of the Tornados for many years to come.
In fact the RET 7 contract has introduced (amongst other things), NVG (Night Vision Goggles) capability, allowing to operate at nights with the same (if not better) day efficiency, ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter), improving the activity’s safety, MMR (Multi Mode Receiver), adding to the MLS (Microwave Landing System) that of the ILS function (Instrumented Landing System) and the MIDS (Multi Information Distribution System), allowing the aircraft to operate in a net-centric manner, which is typical of the NCW (Net Centric Warfare) scenarios of the 21st century.
Thanks to such upgrades and the operational capabilities assured by the entirely automated target-acquisition system “RecceLite”, the new MLU Tornados are capable of operating more effectively in support of out-of-area operations, fully integrating with the allied reconnaissance forces and air reaction.
The work on the remaining 14 aircraft is proceeding as per schedule, at Alenia Aeronautica’s Torino-Caselle site, with shipment of the last unit to take place by the end of the first semester of 2012.