Tornado celebrates a million in Germany
Michael Balter reports from Nörvenich where on 28 June 2005 the TORNADO reached one million flying hours after more than twenty years of flying in the German Air Force and Navy. Pictures by the author and Linda Woitha
The anniversary flight was accomplished by Lieutenant General Walter Jertz, Commander Luftwaffenführungskommando, and Lt Col Thomas Dohler, vice commander flying group of JaboG 31 'Boelcke' (FBW 31) in Tornado IDS 43+92 with specially marked tail. Lieutenant General Jertz was welcomed by a delegation from JabOG 31 on landing at the air base of Nörvenich.
At a small ceremony, Lieutenant General Jertz began his speech in memory of all those soldiers who lost their life in the service. He then told the guests with joy and pride that it he is very lucky to be the oldest jet pilot of the German Air Force and to make this unique anniversary flight to Nörvenich, where his career started.
He paid homage to the German Air Force and German Navy Tornado pilots lost in over two decades of training, exercises and deployments - sadly the crews could not always save themselves with the ejection seat, or were seriously injured after a successful ejection.
The Wing Commander of the German Naval Wing 2, Kapitän zur See Pichel, flew in the chase aircraft 45+14, his last Tornado flying hour, as well the last time a German Naval Tornado would fly in and out from Nörvenich as the German Navy will disband MFG 2 at the end of August 2005. After the flight he received a document from Lieutenant General Jertz as a memory of his last flight.
Johann Heitzmann from EADS' military aircraft section, congratulated the millionth flight hour. "One million flying hours means flying nonstop 41,667 days - this is equivalent to around 114 years pure flying time!", he said.
The Tornado was developed by a consortium from British Aerospace, Messerschmitt Bölkow-Blohm (MBB), Daimler Benz Aerospace AG and Aeritalia. The main requirements of the weapon system Tornado were high load, supersonic flight, very low-level flying and all-weather capability. The first flight of a Tornado took place on 14 August 1974 in Manching with the prototype P01 (identification D-9591). Altogether 357 machines were produced for the German forces: 112 Tornados for the German Navy and 255 Tornados for the Luftwaffe.
Tornados were based in Lagerlechfeld (ECR role), Memmingen (closed), Nörvenich, Büchel, Jever, Eggebek (closed End of August) and in Jagel (now a GAF base). Jagel and Eggebek were the only German Navy bases where the Tornado was based. Both the Luftwaffe and Navy used the Tornado in the roles as fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. It was used by the Luftwaffe in the Bosnia conflict and Kosovo war, Tornado IDS and ECR being based at Piacenza Airbase in Italy during both conflicts - there missons were flown for reconnaissance as well as for identifying hostile radar positions with the unique Tornado ECR.
Acknowledgments: My special thanks go to the Pressezentrum Luftwaffe (PIZ) for their great support and help, without which this report would not have been possible: HFw Hansch, StUffz FA Nesgen and Linda Woitha for the additional 'people' pictures.