Germany’s Tornado Jets Still Can’t Fly at Night


Germany’s Panavia Tornado jets are not ready for combat in after-dark scenarios. The problem? The pilots can’t see. Worse yet, night vision goggles won’t work as a substitute since the lights in the aircraft’s cockpit would be blinding to pilots wearing them.

The aircraft aren’t expected to be night-ready until after 2018. German defense officials blamed the delay on a staffing shortage at the government office charged with certifying the technology as ready for deployment.

Media reports in January 2016 stated that the five German Tornados tasked with reconnaissance over Syria and Iraq as part of the US-led coalition against Daesh were unable to fly at night. Then, a photograph emerged showing a pilot in a Tornado cockpit wearing light amplification goggles. The issue was considered at least partially resolved. 

A German Defense Ministry spokesperson told AFP at that time that they hoped to resolve the issue in just two weeks.

Tobias Lindner, a Green Party member of Germany’s Parliament on a committee that oversees the military, told Defense News, “The problems with the Tornadoes’ night-vision capability have been known for a long time… the Defense Ministry is unable to get these kinds of problems under control.”

The Tornado aircraft were developed jointly by Italy, the United Kingdom and West Germany during the Cold War, but new ones have not been produced since 1998. Germany’s…

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