The Panavia Tornado was a joint effort between the UK, West Germany and Italy to produce a two-seat, dual-engine aircraft with variable-sweep wings. The Tornado took its maiden flight on August 14, 1974 with the first aircraft being delivered to the German Air Force on July 27, 1979. There are three main variants of the Tornado, the IDS (interdictor/strike), ECR (electronic combat/reconnaissance) and ADV (air defense variant) interceptor. By the end of production in 1998 there had been 992 aircraft of all versions built of which 745 were IDS variants.
The 2011 UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was designed to protect Libyan citizens during the civil war that broke out to replace Muammar Gaddafi as president. In response NATO allies began to enforce a no-fly zone designated Operation Unified Protector. Participants were from the U.S., Canada, France and the UK who called their participation “Operation Ellamy”. Tornado GR.4s from RAF Marham were equipped with Brimstone missiles and Paveway IV bombs. One aircraft from 31 Squadron “Gold Stars” flying from Gioia del Colle AB Italy was ZA542/035 delivered to the RAF in 1982