While Saudi Arabia's order for 72 Eurofighter Typhoons dominated the headlines, eight of the nation's Panavia Tornado fighters were taking part in a low-profile exercise with the UK Royal Air Force, originally named "Saudi Sword" but later rebranded "Saudi Green Flag".
For the first time, the air force has disclosed details of its ongoing Tornado Sustainment Programme (TSP), and revealed that the aircraft which visited the UK have already completed the first phase of the major upgrade. Poised to enter its second phase of modernisation work in Saudi Arabia, the ongoing effort will ultimately equip the IDS fleet with a range of new precision-guided weapons and enhanced targeting equipment, in many cases common with those systems already fielded by the UK Royal Air Force's Tornado GR4s, up to six of which took place in the event.
TSP had upgraded the aircraft so that it will be capable of carrying any advanced weapons available, not only Brimstone and Storm Shadow, but other potential acquisitions could include Paveway/Enhanced Paveway-series bombs and an air-to-air missile such as MBDA's Asraam. The goal is to reach the stage that the RAF is currently using with its GR4s.
The last Saudi Arabia Air Force Tornado, that went through the TSP programme at BAE Systems Warton has lost its Sandy Camouflage in favor of this new Grey scheme was photographed by our Malta contributor Ray Abela, after a one night stop in Malta while on its way to be delivered back to the Royal Saudi Air Force.