Initially the designated the GR.1 when it entered service in 1980, 142 Tornados were later upgraded to GR.4/4A standard as a mid life update, entering service in 1998. It is the RAF's primary long-range strike attack aircraft and is fitted on each side of the nose two 25mm cannons. Capable of flying in all weather and at low level, using its terrain-following, ground-mapping radar. It has Forward Looking infrared (FLIR) and linescan imaging systems to help fulfil its reconnaissance role, along with a 'RAPTOR' (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod TORnado) reconnaissance pod. For close air support and interdiction, the aircraft would be equipped with iron bombs, cluster bombs and laser-guided bombs. In the defence suppression role, it is equipped with anti-radar missiles. The Tornado GR.4/4A can also carry 'TIALD' (Thermal Imaging and Laser Designator) pod, first introduced during the first Gulf War in 1990.
The latest weapon systems employed include the Storm Shadow cruise missile system and the Brimstone anti-armour weapon. The Tornado GR.4/4A is in service with the RAF at Marham (2 Squadron with GR.4/GR.4A, 9 Squadron with GR.4, 13 Squadron with GR.4/GR.4A and 31 Squadron); Lossiemouth (12 Squadron, 14 Squadron, 15(R) Squadron and 617 Squadron all with GR.4s). The FJ&W OEU has around five GR.4s on strength, and will 'borrow' aircraft from other squadrons, as and when required.