Tornado ZA326 was the ninth production aircraft in the UK and assembly was completed in July 1980.
During acceptance testing fire, caused by a fuel spill during engine testing, caused damage to the aircraft. When delivered the aircraft was essentially Batch 1 due to the time elapsed until delivery and financial constraints to raise it to date standard.
In engineering and equipment terms a unique aircraft was produced. As this standard would have been difficult for the RAF to manage it was allocated for research to RAE Bedford.
ZA326 was delivered to RAE Bedford from BAE Warton by Sqd Ldr Ed Strongman and Flt Lt Daz James on 26 May 1983. The aircraft with a group of Aircraft Dept engineers is shown below.
A MODAS recording system and a full set of sensors was fitted to the aircraft providing a high quality flight data recording system for post flight analysis purposes suitable for a range of flight test programmes.
The aircraft was acquired from MoD initially to support the assessment and development of the Terrain Following Radar system. The system performance and safety had been reviewed by a specialised scientific team prior to the aircraft delivery. The team produced several products that needed to be tested in flight. They were subsequently introduced to the aircraft fleet to improve performance and safety.