Built in 1984, this is the only F2A variant Tornado aircraft in existence. This unique aircraft is a ‘T-bird’ twin stick variant of the Tornado with full flying controls in both cockpits. The aircraft is decommissioned with weapons systems and radar removed, but otherwise complete.
Tornado F2A ZD902 was originally attached to 229 OCU at RAF Coningsby in a training role. In 1988 it was converted at St Athan to F2A specification. This upgrade was designed to bring early F2 airframes up to F3 standard whilst retaining the Turbo-Union RB199 103 engines. Bizarrely, ZD902 ended up being the only aircraft to receive the modifications, with most of the remaining F2s eventually becoming spares sources. ZD902 was famously used as a camera chase aircraft in 1985 flying alongside Concorde at MACH 2.
Later in her service career seeing use as a trials aircraft for the Defence Research Agency, ZD902 was named TIARA (Tornado Integrated Avionics Research Aircraft). Taskings included Blue Vixen radar trials for the Sea Harrier FA2, and head-up-display work for the Eurofighter Typhoon. TIARA was one of the last test aircraft to be flown out of Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough in 1994, concluding 90 years of military test flying at the historic airfield.
The aircraft flew for the last time on November 30th 2011, over six months after the last operational RAF Tornado F3 squadrons had been stood down making this the longest serving Air Defence Variant (ADV) aircraft. She is indeed ‘’LAST OF THE FEW” as the decal on the nose undercarriage door suggests.
With the vast majority of Tornados reduced to spares parts and scrapped, ZD902 is the last complete example of the Tornado ADV, with engines fitted and hydraulic and electrical systems installed. TIARA has led a very charmed and pampered life and despite a long service career has only clocked up an incredibly low 935 flying hours.
The aircraft is currently stored in a dismantled state in a heated hangar at a former RAF base in Yorkshire, England. Preserved with regular preventative maintenance being carried out, ZD902 is ready for delivery to her next lucky owner.