FBW = Fighter Bomber Wing TTTE = Trinational Tornado Training Establishment a.o.s. = out of service
Combat Wing 1 Jets
For the developing conflict in the former Yugoslavia area, German Government and Luftwaffe set to service the Combat Wing 1 (CW 1), stationed at San Damiano Airbase near Piacenza in northern Italy.
Two German Wings were designated to participate in the mission. The leading wing was Fighterbomberwing 32 from Lechfeld which sent the TORNADO ECR and the Reconnaissance Wing 51 "Immelmann" from Schleswig, which sent the TORNADO RECCE version.
According to the mission phase and the number of tasks to be flown the number of stationed aircraft was variable. The average number was 8-10 from each sending wing and the aircraft rotated on a periodic basis (the wings swapped aircraft according to technical needs). The birds for and from CW 1 could easily be recognized by the special blue and white wing crest they wore on the front part of the engine air intakes. After a few years of the mission going on all of the sending wings aircraft showed this marking.
A very new feature for German Tornado at this time was the new grey camouflage scheme on the jets. Up to the birth of CW 1 all bomber and recce birds wore the dark green and black paint cover which was optimized for a low level type mission over central european territory. The mission profile over Bosnia and Kosovo was totally different from that because of the medium and high altitudes being flown exclusively. Because of that, right at the beginning, the ECR pilots requested a more suitable colouring of their jets. Because no concept was available right away, the wing painted their birds with an interrims grey. You recognize these jets because of the very light grey and the dark green spots which still could be seen e.g. around the canopy. Later the norm 95 was developed and all participating jet successively painted in that new scheme.
Annother hint that you have a CW 1 jet picture in front of you are the reflecting formation bars which are not worn by any other german jet aircraft. You find them as a lying V at the front of the air intakes and on the trailing edge of the rudder. They were brought up to make it easiear and safer for the pilots to fly close night formations in an extent which was not known so far from the peacetime night training missions.
Combat wing 1 was mainly composed of personnel and material of FBW 32 and Recce Wing 51 "Immelmann". It was formed by decission of the German Parliament on June 30 1995.
The first operational Mission from Piacenza took place on August 7 1995. German Tornado ECR escorted american fighters into the airspace above Sarajewo in Bosnia-Herzegowina with the task to suppress any radar based surface-to-air missile (SAM) system which would threaten them.
In the years 1995 until 1999 CW 1 supported with its ECR and RECCE the NATO Rapid Reaction Force, the UN Missions UNPROFOR, IFOR and SFOR but always without being directly involved in any combat activity. Then end of 1998 the conflict around Kosovo, a Serb province habitated by Albanians became a war. All political efforts to solve the ethnical cleansing problem failed. On the evening of March 24 1999 NATO started its operation "ALLIED FORCE" with air attacks against serb military Installations. Based on the decission of the German Parliament of October 16 1998 the Luftwaffe Tornado ECR participated in these combat missions and supported during 438 oprational missions the allied attack forces. Around 235 HARM missiles were shot. The RECCE Tornados supported the operation with 66 missions. After 79 days the operation ALLIED FORCE ended June 10 1999.
After the end of ALLIED FORCE the Tornado ECR returned to their home base Lechfeld. The RECCEs supported further the operations SFOR and KFOR until July 2001.
On July 27 2001 Combat Wing 1 ended its operations and all personnel and material returnde home. The operation ended with overall 2559 Tornado ECR and 4715 RECCE missions with overall 13000 recce targets.
With CW 1 the German Armed Forces conducted the first time active combat after WW II.