Happy Friday, FighterSweep Fans! Hard to believe we’re halfway through May already, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun, right? We’ve had a lot going on as you’ve seen, and more awesome things are in store in the coming couple of weeks. But for now, what sort of friends would we be if we didn’t send you off into the weekend with a healthy dose of ‘burner?! This week’s offering comes to you courtesy of the Luftwaffe’s (former) 321 Squadron.
These sister ships from Jagdbombergeschwader 32/1 (321 Squadron) was an Electronic Combat/Reconnaissance (ECR) wing from Lechfeld Air Base in Bavaria. The unit, specializing in SEAD, traces its origins back to 1958, flying the F-84F Thunderstreak. In 1965, 321 Squadron fielded the F-104 Starfighter and accumulated more than 200,000 hours in the type until conversion to the Tornado began in 1984.
The first variant of the Panavia design was the IDS, which specialized in low-level interdiction and strike missions. In 1991, the ECR version of the Tornado arrived on the scene, and 321 Squadron was the first unit in the Luftwaffe to be equipped with it. The conversion to the SEAD mission was completed in 1994, when all the systems, sub-systems, and software updates were complete.
In March of 1999, the Luftwaffe embarked on its first combat operations since World War II, as a part of Operation Allied Force. The ECR jets were airborne on night one of combat operations. Their mission was to provide SEAD for other NATO strikers. Each day and night ECR Tornados were airborne, no allied aircraft were downed by Serbian SAMs.
This image was captured during the NATO Tiger Meet at Volkel AB in the Netherlands in October 2010. Sadly, 321 Squadron was disbanded in late 2012, and totally gone by early 2013.