F2 TIARA Outline
The development of air defence variant of the Tornado was outlined in the original requirements documents but further outlined in Air Staff Target 395 in 1971.
The Tornado F2 was the first attempt to utilise the highly versatile tornado airframe as a high speed interceptor. The initial versions contained the then troublesome AI24 radar but were still powered the the -103 version of the RB199 turbofan. The -103 was optimised for low level operations and therefore not in its element at the higher altitudes the F2 was to spend most of its time.
There were three F2 prototypes, ZA254, ZA267 and ZA283. Of these ZA267 was dual control.
The first batch of F2s comprised of eighteen airframes, ZD899-ZD906 & ZD932-ZD941. They were all initially powered by the RB199-103. However, development work continued on the RB199 engine and the most significant in terms of thrust was the lengthening of the jet pipe. This modification along with a revised fuel delivery system gave a significant increase in thrust.
ZA267 became the flying engine test bed and in essence became the prototype F3.
The F2 airframes were utilised by 229 OCU which reformed during November 1984 at RAF Coningsby. Its first airframes were ZD901 & ZD903 both delivered on 5th November 1984. ZD901 was delivered by David Eagles & Ken Hayr and ZD903 by Jerry Lee & Rick Peacock-Edwards.
It should be noted that the F.2 has only one cannon, the port one having been removed.
The F.2 airframes were eventually fitted with the PP specification AI24 radar.
F.2 Production consisted of twenty one airframes which included nine trainers.
The stored F.2 airframes were to prove extremely useful after a supplier irreparably damaged a number of F.3 airframes. The damage was to the immensely strong wing box structure. The Tornado airframe is composed of three major assemblies, the wing box being the centre one, the F.2 airframes were stripped and the wing box sections transferred to the damaged F.3s.
The first F.2 airframes are now in the process of being scrapped with a number of airframes now being spotted on the dump at Picketston. For more information please visit the production pages.