A Royal Saudi Air Force Panavia Tornado multirole combat aircraft crashed at 04:41 AM local time in Asir region in the southwestern Saudi Arabia on 12 July, according to Arab Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki.
“The aircraft was returning from a training mission when it crashed in the southern region due to a technical failure,” said Al-Maliki.
The pilot and the navigator reportedly ejected from the aircraft before it crashed and were airlifted to hospital.
Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a war against Houthi militias in Yemen to support the Yemeni elected government for the last three years. Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft are playing a key role in the Saudi’s bombing campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
On 7 January this year, Houthis claimed to have shot down a Saudi warplane which was conducting air-raids over northern Yemen. According to Saudi reports, the downed aircraft is a Panavia Tornado of the Saudi Royal Air Force was on a combat mission in the skies over Saada province in northern Yemen. Saudi reports claimed that it was lost for ‘technical reasons’ and that both crew were rescued.
Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing multirole combat aircraft, which was jointly developed and manufactured by Italy, the United Kingdom, and West Germany.
The Tornado was developed and built by Panavia Aircraft GmbH, a tri-national consortium consisting of British Aerospace (previously British Aircraft Corporation), MBB of West Germany, and Aeritalia of Italy. It first flew on 14 August 1974 and was introduced into service in 1979–1980.
There are three primary Tornado variants: the Tornado IDS (interdictor/strike) fighter-bomber, the Tornado ECR (electronic combat/reconnaissance) and the Tornado ADV (air defence variant) interceptor aircraft.
The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) became the only export operator of the Tornado in addition to the three original partner nations. The RSAF had operated IDS and ADV variants but only IDS variant is currently in service.