Unsurpassed and still amazing after all these years!

Life immitating art.

RAF Harrier Jet Fighter pilot using the real-life Advanced Mission Planning Aid (AMPA)
software which is designed for the aircrew to plan their entire sortie.
Inspired by DI's 1993 Tornado Mission Planner, perhaps?

Photo Copyright, Philip Stevens. Used by permission.

In Tornado you could plan Time-Over-Targets (TOTs) with great precision. This enabled you to use the mission editor to plot, say, a multi-axis, multi-platform timed airfield strike with AI Tornadoes flying SEAD with ALARMs, Eagles on CAP and three main strike groups of Tornadoes, one tasked with hitting the control tower with Mk84s, one to suppress remaining non-radar airfield defences and the other to crater the runway with JP233 baluted munitions delivered along the runway length from 200ft AGL. Each of these missions could be planned with airspeeds and flight profiles guaranteed to get the aircraft to their IPs on time and then to fly a coordinated ingress. The AI missions, if properly planned and timed, would go off like clockwork and if you took the runway-denial mission yourself, you would fly the TOT caret in your HUD, which would calculate en route airspeed on the fly and get you to your IP and then to the target in perfect synchronisation with the AI flights. Or the autopilot could fly the profile, adjusting speed as required to conform to the TOT, with terrain following activated for NOE approaches. It was a thing of beauty. I've flown many hours in both F4 and DCS A-10, both highly sophisticated sims, yet neither come close to continuously computing TOTs dynamically. The planning tools and the TOT HUD caret is there, but for whatever reason, their engines just can't generate Tornado's level of computed precision, either for the AI or for the human sim pilot in the 3-D world.
$trummer (, 2013)





Half the challenge was planning your mission. Seems strange that no one has come up with a better mission planner in the years since Tornado came out.
11Bee (Google Groups, 2000)





I loved setting the other 5 planes to attack hangars/ammo/fuel at an airbase while I came in with JP .233 to disable the runway.
Rcen (2000)





S till the best thing of course was mission planning. Let's not read the manual, let's just quickly make a 6 plane strike on an airfield to see how that goes. 6 aircraft attacking from the same direction. End result 3 planes shot down. Hmm maybe not a good idea after all. Lets let them attack from all directions and put a two second interval. End result, only 1 plane down. My own tornado. Seeing all those tornados attacking the airfield from all directions is great. But I still remember when I saw that tornado flashing by and then those little green dots failing to the ground just below me.....Oh shit ...KABOOOM! After this I decided it might be a good idea to read the manual, learn how to properly plan such a mission :-)
Marc de Vries (1999)





I certainly agree with the statement that Janes F-15 is damn good sim. Nevertheless, I think that on a tactical level it isn't. For instance, when striking a ground target the entire flight (wingmen en other elements) approaches from one direction, and I mean from one direction only. Cannon fodder for the AAA guys that is! I know for a fact that real multi-plane strikes are carried out with precise timing (time lags of seconds) with aircraft approaching from as many different directions as possible. The old mud mover sim TORNADO simulated that VERY VERY good, indeed. Janes F-15 really doesn't. And having your wingmen send on a 'Weapons Free' doesn't substitute for precise strike planning.
Wil van der Putten (1999)





T he game is to a great extent about strategy, using the mission-planner, you decide your target, decide how to get there avoiding SAM and enemy CAP, analyse where the enemys radars can see you, and using terrain-masking finally fly to your target. You have wing-men in the air, but you don't communicate with them. You get to do their flight-plans, though. In the air, timing is critical, you usually attack coordinated with other aircraft, and have to be to the second right on target, or you might fly in to a collegues debris-hemisphere (from his/her bombs).
Patrik Iver (1995)





I remember oh so well the days of Tornado. It still has the best mission planner ever created in a flight sim. I've NEVER understood why it's never been duplicated. F4's mission planner sucks by comparison. F15 was close. Suffice it to say that this many years after the release of Tornado, it's amazing that it still has the BEST mission planner. I encourage you all to dig it out and see what I mean if you've forgotten. That said, let me just confirm what many already know: a Tornado 2 that incorporates all the strengths of the original with today's graphics and flight detail will surpass most of the wannabe's on the market.
Monte Piccolo (1999)





The all time classic ... although I haven't played it lately. I was OBSESSED with the game. Mission planning was the sh*t, especially when attaining the ability to control six birds (re-living the 13-seconds-of-hell I coordinated with six birds, entering the target area from six directions, and flying through each others canopy views but NOT getting caught in the other's ordnance blast ;) AWESOME!!!!). I have yet to find an equivilent simulation providing the same depth of planning and "attractive" ZSU23-4 shells crossing my nose :) They just don't get much better than that!
Eric Allen (Google Groups, 1999)





You can set wings of 1-6 (?) Tornado's (You almost always use 2 per group). You can have wingmen share waypoints, or split off independently and then rejoin later. You can specify waypoint action, weapon, altitude, speed, time. Sometimes you assign a specific speed. Other times you specify a specific time for that w/p and the speed is adjusted to meet it. Most of the time your flights will be at 200' and 550kts.
Turenne001 (Google Groups, 1998)





To this day no sim has had a better mission planner. DI dumbed it down for later releases which I thought was a big mistake. Hell I used to spend more time planning missions than flying them and that was what was so great, planning ahead and having it work. The satisfaction of of a JP233 bombing run down a runway and seeing another strike coming down the adjacent runway as you are doing your run with perfect TOT.
Velcro Fly (Google Groups, 1998)





Never have I seen -- before or after -- a slick mission planner as Tornado. For those of you that missed it, the planner gives you complete control over the war. You can be a single pilot in the "you against the world" type flight, or you can plan and execute the entire air war, for your flights and others.
Rick Dieffenbach (1996)





Oh, Tornado is only one of the most realistic combat flight sims available, with an unmatched mission planner and more 'nice-touches' than you could count. OK, the mission planner allows you to direct up to 8 Tornados (6 strike, 2 air defence), with 15 waypoints, up to three targets each for the IDS (strike) 'planes, at each waypoint you can set the height, selecting terrain following (down to 200') or altitude hold modes, speed or time of arrival. You want to plan a multi-aircraft strike on an airbase, initially taking out the SAMs, then hitting from four directions simultaniously? You can in Tornado. One of the nicest things is that even the preset missions are not fixed, if you want to totally change the mission plan, you can, as long as the designated targets get hit it doesn't matter what plan you use.
Andrew Mobbs (Google Groups, 1995)



Subsequent mission planners in Digital Integration's flight sims were superior in resolution, graphics, 3D flyby sub-windows and general aesthetics, but sadly lacked the depth, flexibility and power of Tornado's.

Apache Longbow (1994)


Hind (1995)


iF-16 (1997)


Super Hornet (1999)


Tornado (1993)



Within the last few months of Tornado's development, the UK Ministry of Defence has issued a development contract for a new mission planning system, to be used for the Harrier GR.7 and potentially the Tornado GR.4. It is called AMPA (Advanced Mission Planning Aid), due to be in service by early 1995, and the published description (in Flight International, 20 January 1993) sounds eerily familiar to those of us who specified and developed Tornado's mission planning system. There is no question of one being a copy of the other - we simply came to very similar conclusions about what is possible and desirable to do with the available computer power. But you don`t have to wait until 1995.
David Marshall (Tornado Manual, 1993)


Flight International magazine, 20 January 1993.
Hover your mouse cursor over the image above!




Watch DI's Tornado Mission Planner in action!