The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard–delta wing, multirole fighter. The Typhoon was designed originally as an air superiority fighter and is manufactured by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo that conducts the majority of the project through a joint holding company, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH formed in 1986. NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency manages the project and is the prime customer.
The aircraft’s development effectively began in 1983 with the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme, a multinational collaboration among the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Disagreements over design authority and operational requirements led France to leave the consortium to develop the Dassault Rafale independently. A technology demonstration aircraft, the British Aerospace EAP, first took flight on 6th August 1986; the first prototype of the finalised Eurofighter made its first flight on 27th March 1994. The aircraft’s name, Typhoon, was adopted in September 1998; the first production contracts were also signed that year.
Political issues in the partner nations significantly protracted the Typhoon’s development; the sudden end of the Cold War reduced European demand for fighter aircraft, and debate existed over the aircraft’s cost and work share. The Typhoon entered operational service in 2003; it has entered service with the air forces of Austria, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Saudi Arabia. The air forces of Oman, Kuwait and Qatar are export customers, bringing the procurement total to 623 aircraft as of 2019.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft, designed to be a supremely effective dogfighter in combat. Later production aircraft have been increasingly better equipped to undertake air-to-surface strike missions and to be compatible with an increasing number of different armaments and equipment, including Storm Shadow and the RAF’s Brimstone. The Typhoon had its combat debut during the 2011 military intervention in Libya with the UK’s Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force, performing aerial reconnaissance and ground-strike missions. The type has also taken primary responsibility for air-defence duties for the majority of customer nations.
The UK had identified a requirement for a new fighter as early as 1971. The AST 403 specification, issued by the Air staff in 1972, led to the P.96 conventional “tailed” design presented in the late 1970s. While the design would have met the Air Staff’s requirements, the UK air industry had reservations, as it appeared to be very similar to the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, which was then well advanced in its development. The P.96 design had little potential for growth, and when it entered production, it would secure few exports in a market in which the Hornet would be well established. However, the simultaneous West German requirement for a new fighter had led by 1979 to the development of the TKF-90 concept. This was a cranked delta wing design with forward close-coupled-canard controls and artificial stability. Although the British Aerospace designers rejected some of its advanced features such as engine vectoring nozzles and vented trailing edge controls, a form of boundary layer control, they agreed with the overall configuration.
In 1979, Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) and British Aerospace (BAe) presented a formal proposal to their respective governments for the ECF, the European Collaborative Fighter or European Combat Fighter. In October 1979 Dassault joined the ECF team for a tri-national study, which became known as the European Combat Aircraft. It was at this stage of development the Eurofighter name was first attached to the aircraft. The development of different national prototypes continued. France produced the ACX. The UK produced two designs; the P.106 was a single-engined “lightweight” fighter, superficially resembling the JAS 39 Gripen, the P.110 was a twin-engined fighter. The RAF rejected the P.106 concept on the grounds it had “half the effectiveness of the two-engined aircraft at two-thirds of the cost”. West Germany continued to refine the TKF-90 concept. The ECA project collapsed in 1981 for several reasons, including differing requirements, Dassault’s insistence on “design leadership” and the British preference for a new version of the RB199 to power the aircraft versus the French preference for the new Snecma M88.
Consequently, the Panavia partners (MBB, BAe and Aeritalia) launched the Agile Combat Aircraft (ACA) programme in April 1982. The ACA was very similar to the BAe P.110, having a cranked delta wing, canards and a twin tail. One major external difference was the replacement of the side-mounted engine intakes with a chin intake. The ACA was to be powered by a modified version of the RB199. The German and Italian governments withdrew funding, and the UK Ministry of Defence agreed to fund 50% of the cost with the remaining 50% to be provided by industry. MBB and Aeritalia signed up with the aim of producing two aircraft, one at Warton and one by MBB. In May 1983, BAe announced a contract with the MoD for the development and production of an ACA demonstrator, the Experimental Aircraft Programme.
In 1983 Italy, Germany, France, the UK and Spain launched the “Future European Fighter Aircraft” (FEFA) programme. The aircraft was to have short take off and landing (STOL) and beyond visual range (BVR) capabilities. In 1984, France reiterated its requirement for a carrier-capable version and demanded a leading role. Italy, West Germany and the UK opted out and established a new EFA programme. In Turin on 2nd August 1985, West Germany, the UK and Italy agreed to go ahead with the Eurofighter; and confirmed France, along with Spain, had chosen not to proceed as a member of the project. Despite pressure from France, Spain rejoined the Eurofighter project in early September 1985. France officially withdrew from the project to pursue its own ACX project, which was to become the Dassault Rafale.
By 1986, the programme’s cost had reached £180 million. When the EAP programme had started, the cost was supposed to be equally shared by government and industry, but the West German and Italian governments wavered on the agreement and the three main industrial partners had to provide £100 million to keep the programme from ending. In April 1986, the BAe EAP was rolled out at BAe Warton, by this time also partially funded by MBB, BAe and Aeritalia. The EAP first flew on 6th August 1986. The Eurofighter bears a strong resemblance to the EAP. Design work continued over the next five years using data from the EAP. Initial requirements were: UK: 250 aircraft, Germany: 250, Italy: 165 and Spain: 100. The share of the production work was divided among the countries in proportion to their projected procurement – DASA (33%), British Aerospace (33%), Aeritalia (21%), and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) (13%).
The Munich-based Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH was established in 1986 to manage development of the project and EuroJet Turbo GmbH, the alliance of Rolls-Royce, MTU Aero Engines, FiatAvio (now Avio) and ITP for development of the EJ200. The aircraft was known as Eurofighter EFA from the late 1980s until it was renamed EF 2000 in 1992.
By 1990, the selection of the aircraft’s radar had become a major stumbling-block. The UK, Italy and Spain supported the Ferranti Defence Systems-led ECR-90, while Germany preferred the APG-65-based MSD2000 (a collaboration between Hughes, AEG and GEC-Marconi). An agreement was reached after UK Defence Secretary Tom King assured his West German counterpart Gerhard Stoltenberg that the British government would approve the project and allow the GEC subsidiary Marconi Electronic Systems to acquire Ferranti Defence Systems from its parent, the Ferranti Group, which was in financial and legal difficulties. GEC thus withdrew its support for the MSD2000.
The financial burdens placed on Germany by reunification caused Helmut Kohl to make an election promise to cancel the Eurofighter. In early to mid-1991 German Defence Minister Volker Rühe sought to withdraw Germany from the project in favour of using Eurofighter technology in a cheaper, lighter plane. Because of the amount of money already spent on development, the number of jobs dependent on the project, and the binding commitments on each partner government, Helmut Kohl was unable to withdraw; “Rühe’s predecessors had locked themselves into the project by a punitive penalty system of their own devising.”
In 1995 concerns over workshare appeared. Since the formation of Eurofighter the workshare split had been agreed at 33/33/21/13 (United Kingdom/Germany/Italy/Spain) based on the number of units being ordered by each contributing nation, all the nations then reduced their orders. The UK cut its orders from 250 to 232, Germany from 250 to 140, Italy from 165 to 121 and Spain from 100 to 87. According to these order levels the workshare split should have been 39/24/22/15 UK/Germany/Italy/Spain, however Germany was unwilling to give up such a large amount of work. In January 1996, after much negotiation between German and UK partners, a compromise was reached whereby Germany would purchase another 40 aircraft. The workshare split was 43% for EADS MAS in Germany and Spain; 37.5% BAE Systems in the UK; and 19.5% for Alenia in Italy.
The next major milestone came at the Farnborough Airshow in September 1996. The UK announced the funding for the construction phase of the project. In November 1996 Spain confirmed its order but Germany delayed its decision. After much diplomatic activity between Germany and the UK, an interim funding arrangement of DM100 million (€51 million) was contributed by the German government in July 1997 to continue flight trials. Further negotiations finally resulted in Germany’s approval to purchase the Eurofighter in October 1997
The maiden flight of the Eurofighter prototype took place in Bavaria on 27th March 1994, flown by DASA chief test pilot Peter Weger. On 9th December 2004, Eurofighter Typhoon IPA4 began three months of Cold Environmental Trials (CET) at the Vidsel Air Base in Sweden, the purpose of which was to verify the operational behaviour of the aircraft and its systems in temperatures between −25 and 31 °C. The maiden flight of Instrumented Production Aircraft 7 (IPA7), the first fully equipped Tranche 2 aircraft, took place from EADS’ Manching airfield on 16th January 2008.
The first production contract was signed on 30th January 1998 between Eurofighter GmbH, Eurojet and NETMA. The procurement totals were as follows: the UK 232, Germany 180, Italy 121, and Spain 87. Production was again allotted according to procurement: British Aerospace (37.42%), DASA (29.03%), Aeritalia (19.52%), and CASA (14.03%).
On 2nd September 1998, a naming ceremony was held at Farnborough, United Kingdom. This saw the Typhoon name formally adopted, initially for export aircraft only. The name continues the storm theme started by the Panavia Tornado. This was reportedly resisted by Germany, perhaps because the Hawker Typhoon was a fighter-bomber aircraft used by the RAF during the Second World War to attack German targets. The name “Spitfire II” (after the famous British Second World War fighter, the Supermarine Spitfire) had also been considered and rejected for the same reason early in the development programme. In September 1998, contracts were signed for production of 148 Tranche 1 aircraft and procurement of long lead-time items for Tranche 2 aircraft. In March 2008, the final aircraft out of Tranche 1 was delivered to the German Air Force, with all successive deliveries being at the Tranche 2 standard. On 21st October 2008, the first two of 91 Tranche 2 aircraft, ordered four years before, were delivered to RAF Coningsby.
In October 2008, the Eurofighter nations were considering splitting the 236-fighter Tranche 3 into two parts. In June 2009, RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy suggested that the RAF fleet could be 123 jets, instead of the 232 previously planned. In spite of this reduction in required aircraft, on 14th May 2009 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed the UK would move ahead with the third batch purchase. A contract for the first part, Tranche 3A, was signed at the end of July 2009 for 112 aircraft split across the four partner nations, including 40 aircraft for the UK, 31 for Germany, 21 for Italy and 20 for Spain. These 40 aircraft were said to have fully covered the UK’s obligations in the project by Air Commodore Chris Bushell, because of cost overruns in the project.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is unique in modern combat aircraft in that there are four separate assembly lines. Each partner company assembles its own national aircraft, but builds the same parts for all aircraft (including exports); Premium AEROTEC (main centre fuselage), EADS CASA (right wing, leading edge slats), BAE Systems (front fuselage (including foreplanes), canopy, dorsal spine, tail fin, inboard flaperons, rear fuselage section) and Leonardo (left wing, outboard flaperons, rear fuselage sections).
Production is divided into three tranches (see table below). Tranches are a production/funding distinction, and do not imply an incremental increase in capability with each tranche. Tranche 3 are based on late Tranche 2 aircraft with improvements added. Tranche 3 was split into A and B parts. Tranches were further divided up into production standard/capability blocks and funding/procurement batches, though these did not coincide, and are not the same thing; e.g., the Eurofighter designated FGR4 by the RAF is a Tranche 1, block 5. Batch 1 covered block 1, but batch 2 covered blocks 2, 2B and 5. On 25th May 2011 the 100th production aircraft, ZK315, rolled off the production line at Warton.
In 1988, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces told the UK House of Commons that the European Fighter Aircraft would “be a major project, costing the United Kingdom about £7 billion”. It was soon apparent a more realistic estimate was £13 billion, made up of £3.3 billion development costs plus £30 million per aircraft. By 1997 the estimated cost was £17 billion; by 2003, £20 billion, and the in-service date (2003, defined as the date of delivery of the first aircraft to the RAF) was 54 months late. After 2003, the Ministry of Defence refused to release updated cost-estimates on the grounds of ‘commercial sensitivity’. However, in 2011, the National Audit Office estimated the UK’s “assessment, development, production and upgrade costs eventually hit £22.9 billion” and total programme costs would reach £37 billion.
By 2007, Germany estimated the system cost (aircraft and training, plus spare parts) at €120 million and said it was in perpetual increase. On 17th June 2009, Germany ordered 31 aircraft of Tranche 3A for €2,800 million, leading to a system cost of €90 million per aircraft. The UK’s Committee of Public Accounts reported that the mismanagement of the project had helped increase the cost of each aircraft by seventy five percent. Defence Secretary Liam Fox responded that “I am determined that in the future such projects are properly run from the outset, and I have announced reforms to reduce equipment delays and cost overruns.” The Spanish MoD put the cost of their Typhoon project up to December 2010 at €11.718 billion, up from an original €9.255 billion and implying a system cost for their 73 aircraft of €160 million.
On 11th September 2008, the combined flying time of the five customer Air Forces and the industrial Flight Test programme saw the aircraft pass the 50,000 flight hours milestone. On 31st March 2009, a Eurofighter Typhoon fired an AMRAAM whilst having its radar in passive mode for the first time; the necessary target data for the missile was acquired by the radar of a second Eurofighter Typhoon and transmitted using the Multi Functional Information Distribution System (MIDS). In January 2011, the entire Typhoon fleet had passed the 100,000 flying hours mark. In September 2013, the worldwide Eurofighter fleet achieved over 200,000 flight hours. As of August 2019, a total of 623 orders had been received with 560 delivered.
In July 2016, the 10-year Typhoon Total Availability Enterprise (TyTAN) support deal between the RAF and industry partners BAE Systems and Leonardo was announced that aims to reduce the Typhoon’s per-hour operating cost by 30–40%. This should equate to a saving of at least £550 million ($712 million), which “will be recycled into the programme”, according to BAE Systems Military Air & Information managing director Chris Boardman, with the eventually result in the Typhoon having a per-hour operating cost “equivalent to a F-16”.In February 2019, Germany ordered 33 further Typhoons to replace ageing Tranche 1 aircraft.
In 2000, the UK selected the MBDA Meteor as the long range air-to-air missile armament for her Typhoons with an in-service date (ISD) of December 2011. In December 2002, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden joined the British in a $1.9bn contract for Meteor on Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale and the Saab Gripen. The protracted contract negotiations pushed the ISD to August 2012, and it was further put back by Eurofighter’s failure to make trials aircraft available to the Meteor partners. Meteor is now in production and first deliveries to the RAF were scheduled for Q4 2012 but full clearance on Typhoon was not planned until mid-2016. While the Meteor may have been delivered, it will not enter service before 2017. In 2014 the “second element of the Phase 1 Enhancements package known as ‘P1Eb'” was announced, allowing “Typhoon to realise both its air-to-air and air-to-ground capability to full effect”.
Budgetary pressures being encountered by the four original partner nations have limited upgrades None of the partner nations have confirmed an order for Tranche 3Bs, which would have been “optimized for future higher-tempo air-to-air and strike operations”, and Germany has cut its own orders short to avoid the model. Furthermore, the four original partner nations have proved reluctant to collectively fund enhancements that extend the aircraft’s air-to-ground capability, such as integration of the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile.
However, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force has an enhancement programme that aims to integrate the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile, the MBDA Brimstone air-to-surface missile and the Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile into its Eurofighter Typhoon force. This programme is known as Project Centurion and has set a target of December 2018 to seamlessly integrate the weapons and capability of the Panavia Tornado GR4 before the Tornados go out of service in 2019. In October 2016, BAE systems confirmed that the first phase of Project Centurion’s package of enhancements had entered the operational evaluation stage. In April 2017, BAE Systems announced six successful firings by the Typhoon in 2016, including a simultaneous firing of two Meteor missiles. Training with Meteor is now due to take place with the UK Royal Air Force later in 2017.
Tranche 3 aircraft ESM/ECM enhancements have been focused on improving radiating jamming power with antenna modifications, while EuroDASS is reported to offer a range of new capabilities, including the addition of a digital receiver, extending band coverage to low frequencies (VHF/UHF) and introducing an interferometric receiver with extremely precise geolocation functionalities. On the jamming side, EuroDASS is looking to low-band (VHF/UHF) jamming, more capable antennae, new ECM techniques, while protection against missile, is to be enhanced through a new passive MWS in addition to the active devices already on board the aircraft. The latest support for self-protection will however originate from the new aesa radar which is to replace the Captor system, providing in a spiralled programme with passive, active and cyberwarfare RF capabilities.
Selex ES has developed a self-contained expendable Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) jammer for fast jet aircraft known as the BriteCloud, which was expected to be available on the market by mid-2014. It will provide an off-board capability to decoy RF guided missile seekers and fire control radars, producing large miss distance and angle break lock, thanks to self-contained coherent technique generation processing and high-power batteries that allow at least ten seconds of life after firing activation, in addition to rapid-response capabilities. Dispensed in the initial format from standard 55 mm flare cartridge to equip at least three main platforms (Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and Panavia Tornado).
Eurojet is attempting to find funding to test a thrust vectoring nozzle (TVN) on a flight demonstrator. Additionally, the RAF has sought to develop conformal fuel tanks (CFT) for their Typhoons to free up underwing space for weapons, and all Tranche 3 aircraft are fitted to accept these tanks. On 22nd April 2014, BAE systems announced a new round of wind tunnel tests to assess the aerodynamic characteristics of conformal fuel tanks (CFTs). The CFTs, which can be fitted to any Tranche 2/3 aircraft, can carry 1,500 litres each to increase the Typhoon’s combat radius by a factor of 25% to 1,500 n miles (2,778 km).
BAE Systems has completed development of its Striker II Helmet-Mounted Display that builds on the capabilities of the original Striker Helmet-Mounted Display, which is already in service on the Typhoon. Striker II features a new display with more colour and can transition between day and night seamlessly eliminating the need for separate night vision googles. In addition, the helmet can monitor the pilot’s exact head position so it always knows exactly what information to display. The system is compatible with ANR, a 3-D audio threats system and 3-D communications; these are available as customer options.
In 2015, BAE Systems was awarded a £1.7 million contract to study the feasibility of a common weapon launcher that could be capable of carrying multiple weapons and weapon types on a single pylon.
Also in 2015, Airbus flight tested a package of aerodynamic upgrades for the Eurofighter known as the Aerodynamic Modification Kit (AMK) that included fuselage strakes and leading-edge root extensions which increases wing lift by 25% resulting in an increased turn rate, tighter turning radius, and improved nose-pointing ability at low speed with angle of attack values around 45% greater than on the standard aircraft and roll rates up to 100% higher.
Eurofighter’s Laurie Hilditch said these improvements should increase subsonic turn rate by 15% and give the Eurofighter the sort of “knife-fight in a phone box” turning capability enjoyed by rivals such as Boeing’s F/A-18E/F or the Lockheed Martin F-16, without sacrificing the transonic and supersonic high-energy agility inherent to its delta wing-canard configuration. Eurofighter Project Pilot Germany Raffaele Beltrame said: “The handling qualities appeared to be markedly improved, providing more manoeuvrability, agility and precision while performing tasks representative of in-service operations. And it is extremely interesting to consider the potential benefits in the air-to-surface configuration thanks to the increased variety and flexibility of stores that can be carried.
In April 2016, Finmeccanica (Leonardo from 2017) demonstrated the air-to-ground capabilities of its Mode 5 Reverse-Identification Friend-Foe (IFF) system integrated on an Italian Air Force Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoon. This demonstration shows that it is possible to give pilots the ability to distinguish between friendly and enemy platforms in a simple, low-impact fashion using the aircraft’s existing transponder. Finmeccanica says NATO is considering the system as a short- to mid-term solution for air-to-surface identification of friendly forces and thus avoid collateral damages due to friendly fire during close air support operations.
On 24th April 2018, Airbus announced its offer to replace Germany’s Panavia Tornado fleet, proposing the integration of new weaponry, performance enhancements and additional capabilities to the Eurofighter Typhoon. Included in the offer is the integration of additional weaponry and capability building on the Phased Enhancement program that is currently integrating the MBDA Brimstone air-to-ground missile, the Storm Shadow cruise missile, and the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile. The Airbus offer is similar to that being performed as part of Project Centurion for the UK Royal Air Force, transferring the weapons and capabilities from the Tornado over to the Typhoon. Integration of air-to-ground weapons already has begun on German Typhoons as part of Project Odin. Among the weapons being offered for integration as part of the Tornado replacement program are the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile for the anti-ship mission and the Taurus cruise missile. Taurus already has undergone a partial integration because of its similar size, shape and weight to the Storm Shadow. Airbus also is proposing adding the ability to perform destruction and suppression of enemy air defense missions using emitter detection systems that are yet to be integrated onto the aircraft, as well as the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). That mission currently is performed by the ECR version of the Tornado in German service. The consortium is keen to make use of the engine’s growth potential to boost thrust by around 15% as well as improve fuel efficiency and range. This will be combined with a new design and enlarged 1,800-litre fuel tank. The aircraft currently is fitted with 1,000-liter fuel tanks. Other modifications will include the Aerodynamic Modification Kit, test flown in 2014, to improve maneuverability and handling, particularly with heavy weapon loads. Eurofighter says they also are comfortable with delivering integration of the U.S. B61 nuclear weapon onto the aircraft, a process that requires U.S. certification. Paltzo said he was confident the U.S. government would not use the certification requirements of the weapon as “leverage” to force Germany towards a U.S. platform such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
The Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft at both supersonic and low speeds, achieved through having an intentionally relaxed stability design. It has a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire control system providing artificial stability, as manual operation alone could not compensate for the inherent instability. The fly-by-wire system is described as “carefree”, and prevents the pilot from exceeding the permitted manoeuvre envelope. Roll control is primarily achieved by use of the wing elevons. Pitch control is by operation of the foreplanes and elevons, the yaw control is by rudder. Control surfaces are moved through two independent hydraulic systems, which also supply various other items, such as the canopy, brakes and undercarriage; powered by a 4,000 psi engine-driven pumps. Engines are fed by a chin double intake ramp situated below a splitter plate.
The Typhoon features lightweight construction (82% composites consisting of 70% carbon fibre composite materials and 12% glass fibre reinforced composites) with an estimated lifespan of 6,000 flying hours. The permitted lifespan, as opposed to the estimated lifespan, was 3,000 hours.
Radar signature reduction features
Although not designated a stealth fighter, measures were taken to reduce the Typhoon’s radar cross section (RCS), especially from the frontal aspect. An example of these measures is that the Typhoon has jet inlets that conceal the front of the jet engine (a strong radar target) from radar. Many important potential radar targets, such as the wing, canard and fin leading edges, are highly swept, so will reflect radar energy well away from the front sector. Some external weapons are mounted semi-recessed into the aircraft, partially shielding these missiles from incoming radar waves. In addition radar-absorbent materials (RAM), developed primarily by EADS/DASA, coat many of the most significant reflectors, such as the wing leading edges, the intake edges and interior, the rudder surrounds, and strakes.
The manufacturers have carried out tests on the early Eurofighter prototypes to optimise the low observability characteristics of the aircraft from the early 1990s. Testing at BAE’s Warton facility on the DA4 prototype measured the RCS of the aircraft and investigated the effects of a variety of RAM coatings and composites. Another measure to reduce the likelihood of discovery is the use of passive sensors (PIRATE IRST), which minimises the radiation of treacherous electronic emissions. While canards generally have poor stealth characteristics, the flight control system is designed to maintain the elevon trim and canards at an angle at which they have the smallest RCS.
The Typhoon features a glass cockpit without any conventional instruments. It incorporates three full colour multi-function head-down displays (MHDDs) (the formats on which are manipulated by means of softkeys, XY cursor, and voice (Direct Voice Input or DVI) command), a wide angle head-up display (HUD) with forward-looking infrared (FLIR), a voice and hands-on throttle and stick (Voice+HOTAS), a Helmet Mounted Symbology System (HMSS), a Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS), a manual data-entry facility (MDEF) located on the left glareshield and a fully integrated aircraft warning system with a dedicated warnings panel (DWP). Reversionary flying instruments, lit by LEDs, are located under a hinged right glareshield. Access to the cockpit is normally via either a telescopic integral ladder or an external version. The integral ladder is stowed in the port side of the fuselage, below the cockpit.
User needs were given a high priority in the cockpit’s design; both layout and functionality was created through feedback and assessments from military pilots and a specialist testing facility. The aircraft is controlled by means of a centre stick (or control stick) and left hand throttles, designed on a Hand on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) principle to lower pilot workloads. Emergency escape is provided by a Martin-Baker Mk.16A ejection seat, with the canopy being jettisoned by two rocket motors. The HMSS was delayed by years but should have been operational by late 2011. Standard g-force protection is provided by the full-cover anti-g trousers (FCAGTs). a specially developed g suit providing sustained protection up to 9 g. German Air Force and Austrian Air Force pilots wear a hydrostatic g-suit called Libelle (dragonfly) Multi G Plus instead, which also provides protection to the arms, theoretically giving more complete g tolerance.
In the event of pilot disorientation, the Flight Control System allows for rapid and automatic recovery by the simple press of a button. On selection of this cockpit control the FCS takes full control of the engines and flying controls, and automatically stabilises the aircraft in a wings level, gentle climbing attitude at 300 knots, until the pilot is ready to retake control. The aircraft also has an Automatic Low-Speed Recovery system (ALSR) which prevents it from departing from controlled flight at very low speeds and high angle of attack. The FCS system is able to detect a developing low-speed situation and to raise an audible and visual low-speed cockpit warning. This gives the pilot sufficient time to react and to recover the aircraft manually. If the pilot does not react, however, or if the warning is ignored, the ALSR takes control of the aircraft, selects maximum dry power for the engines and returns the aircraft to a safe flight condition. Depending on the attitude, the FCS employs an ALSR “push”, “pull” or “knife-over” manoeuvre.
The Typhoon Direct Voice Input (DVI) system uses a speech recognition module (SRM), developed by Smiths Aerospace (now GE Aviation Systems) and Computing Devices (now General Dynamics UK). It was the first production DVI system used in a military cockpit. DVI provides the pilot with an additional natural mode of command and control over approximately 26 non-critical cockpit functions, to reduce pilot workload, improve aircraft safety, and expand mission capabilities. An important step in the development of the DVI occurred in 1987 when Texas Instruments completed the TMS-320-C30, a digital signal-processor, enabling reductions in the size and system complexity required. The project was given the go-ahead in July 1997, with development and pilot assessment carried out on the Eurofighter Active Cockpit Simulator at BAE Systems Warton.
The DVI system is speaker-dependent, requiring each pilot to create a template. It is not used for safety-critical or weapon-critical tasks, such as weapon release or lowering of the undercarriage, but is used for a wide range of cockpit functions. Voice commands are confirmed by visual or aural feedback, and serves to reduce pilot workload. All functions are also achievable by means of a conventional button-press or soft-key selections; functions include display management, communications, and management of various systems. EADS Defence and Security in Spain has worked on a new non-template DVI module to allow for continuous speech recognition, speaker voice recognition with common databases (e.g. British English, American English, etc.) and other improvements.
Navigation is via both GPS and an inertial navigation system. The Typhoon can use Instrument Landing System (ILS) for landing in poor weather. The aircraft also features an enhanced ground proximity warning system (GPWS) based on the TERPROM Terrain Referenced Navigation (TRN) system used by the Panavia Tornado. The Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) provides a Link 16 data link.
The aircraft employs a sophisticated and highly integrated Defensive Aids Sub-System named Praetorian (formerly called EuroDASS). Praetorian monitors and responds automatically to air and surface threats, provides an all-round prioritised assessment, and can respond to multiple threats simultaneously. Threat detection methods include a Radar warning receiver (RWR), a missile warning system (MWS) and a laser warning receiver (LWR, only on UK Typhoons). Protective countermeasures consist of chaff, flares, an electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite and a towed radar decoy (TRD). The ESM-ECM and MWS consists of 16 AESA antenna array assemblies and 10 radomes.
Traditionally each sensor in an aircraft is treated as a discrete source of information; however this can result in conflicting data and limits the scope for the automation of systems, hence increasing pilot workload. To overcome this, the Typhoon employs what are now known as sensor fusion techniques. In the Typhoon fusion of all data sources is achieved through the Attack and Identification System, or AIS. The AIS combines data from the major on-board sensors along with any information obtained from off-board platforms such as AWACS, ASTOR, and Eurofighter own Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS). Additionally the AIS integrates all the other major offensive and defensive systems such as the DASS, Navigation, ACS and Communications. The AIS physically comprises two essentially separate units: the Attack Computer (AC) and the Navigation Computer (NC), linked via the STANAG 3910 databus to the other major systems such as the ACS, ECR-90/CAPTOR, PIRATE, etc. Both the AC and NC are identical in design, being a modular unit based on Motorola 68020 CPUs with 68882 Maths co-processors, as well as several custom RISC-based processors utilised to accelerate floating point and matrix operations.
By having a single source of information, pilot workload should be reduced by removing the possibility of conflicting data and the need for cross-checking, improving situational awareness and increasing systems automation. In practice the AIS should allow the Eurofighter to identify targets at distances in excess of 150 nmi and acquire and auto-prioritise them at over 100 nmi. In addition the AIS offers the ability to automatically control emissions from the aircraft, so called EMCON (from EMissions CONtrol). This should aid in limiting the detectability of the Typhoon by opposing aircraft further reducing pilot workload.
In 2017 a RAF Eurofighter Typhoon demonstrated interoperability with the F-35B using its Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) in a two-week trial known as Babel Fish III, in the Mojave Desert. This was achieved by translating the MADL messages into Link 16 format, thus allowing a F-35 in stealth mode to communicate directly with the Typhoon.
Radar and sensors
The Eurofighter operates automatic Emission Controls (EMCON) to reduce the electro-magnetic emissions of the current CAPTOR mechanically scanned radar. The Captor-M has three working channels, one intended for classification of jammer and for jamming suppression. A succession of radar software upgrades have enhanced the air-to-air capability of the Captor-M radar. These upgrades have included the R2P programme (initially UK only, and known as T2P when ‘ported’ to the Tranche 2 aircraft) which is being followed by R2Q/T2Q. R2P was applied to eight German Typhoons deployed on Red Flag Alaska in 2012.
The CAPTOR-E is an active electronically scanned array derivative of the original CAPTOR radar, also known as CAESAR (from CAPTOR Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar) being developed by the EuroRADAR Consortium, led by Selex ES. The German BW-Plan 2009 indicated that Germany intended to equip/retrofit their Eurofighters with the AESA Captor-E from 2012, but the contract award was delayed until at least mid-2014.
Synthetic Aperture Radar is expected to be fielded as part of the AESA radar upgrade which will give the Eurofighter an all-weather ground attack capability. The conversion to AESA will also give the Eurofighter a low probability of intercept radar with much better jam resistance. These include an innovative design with a gimbal to meet RAF requirements for a wider scan field than a fixed AESA. The coverage of a fixed AESA is limited to 120° in azimuth and elevation. A senior EADS radar expert has claimed that Captor-E is capable of detecting an F-35 from roughly 59 km away.
In May 2007, Eurofighter Development Aircraft 5 made the first flight with the CAPTOR-E demonstrator system,Tranche 2 aircraft use the non-AESA mechanically scanned Captor-M which incorporates weight and space provisions for possible upgrade to CAESAR (AESA) standard in the future. In June 2013, Chris Bushell of Selex ES warned that the failure of European nations to invest in an AESA radar was putting export orders at risk. In November BAE responded that work on an AESA radar continued, to protect exports. On 22nd June 2011, it was announced that the partner nations had agreed to fund development of the Captor-E radar, with entry into service planned for 2015. The British are pursuing an independent Technology Demonstrator Programme called Bright Adder, which will give the Typhoon an Electronic Attack mode among other things. Bright Adder is based on Qinetiq’s ARTS radar demonstrator for the Tornado GR4 and could evolve into an alternative to the main E-Scan project should E-Scan falter.
The first flight of a Eurofighter equipped with a “mass model” of the Captor-E occurred in late February 2014, with flight tests of the actual radar beginning in July of that year. Tranche 3 Typhoons have the mechanical, electrical and cooling enhancements needed to operate the radar. At the 2014 Farnborough Airshow the UK MOD announced that it had awarded BAE Systems a £72 million ($124 million) contract to conduct national-specific testing on a prototype AESA system. On 19th November 2014 the contract to upgrade to the Captor-E was signed at the offices of EuroRadar lead Selex ES in Edinburgh, in a deal worth €1bn. Availability of the radar, for Tranche 2 and 3A aircraft, was anticipated by 2016–17, but there are no orders for the radar system from the partner nations. However, Kuwait became the launch customer for the Captor-E active electronically scanned array radar in April 2016.
The Passive Infra-Red Airborne Track Equipment (PIRATE) system is an infrared search and track (IRST) system mounted on the port side of the fuselage, forward of the windscreen. Selex ES is the lead contractor which, along with Thales Optronics (system technical authority) and Tecnobit of Spain, make up the EUROFIRST consortium responsible for the system’s design and development. Eurofighters starting with Tranche 1 block 5 have the PIRATE. The first Eurofighter Typhoon with PIRATE-IRST was delivered to the Italian Aeronautica Militare in August 2007. More advanced targeting capabilities can be provided with the addition of a targeting pod such as the LITENING pod.
PIRATE operates in two IR bands, 3–5 and 8–11 micrometres. When used with the radar in an air-to-air role, it functions as an infrared search and track system, providing passive target detection and tracking. In an air-to-surface role, it performs target identification and acquisition. By supercooling the sensor, the system can detect even small variations in temperature at a long range. Although no definitive ranges have been released, an upper limit of 80 nmi has been hinted at; a more typical figure would be 30 to 50 nmi. It also provides a navigation and landing aid. PIRATE is linked to the pilot’s helmet-mounted display. It allows the detection of both hot exhaust plumes of jet engines and surface heating caused by friction; processing techniques further enhance the output, giving a near-high resolution image of targets. The output can be directed to any of the Multi-function Head Down Displays, and can also be overlaid on both the Helmet Mounted Sight and Head Up Display.
The IIR sensor has a stabilised mount so that it can maintain a target within its field of view. Up to 200 targets can be simultaneously tracked using one of several different modes; Multiple Target Track (MTT), Single Target Track (STT), Single Target Track Ident (STTI), Sector Acquisition and Slaved Acquisition. In MTT mode the system will scan a designated volume space looking for potential targets. In STT mode PIRATE will provide high precision tracking of a single designated target. An addition to this mode, STT Ident allows for visual identification of the target, the resolution being superior to CAPTOR’s. Both Sector and Slave Acquisition demonstrate the level of sensor fusion present in the Typhoon. When in Sector Acquisition mode PIRATE will scan a volume of space under direction of another onboard sensor such as CAPTOR. In Slave Acquisition, off-board sensors are used with PIRATE being commanded by data obtained from an AWACS or other source. When a target is found in either of these modes, PIRATE will automatically designate it and switch to STT.
Once a target has been tracked and identified, PIRATE can be used to cue an appropriately equipped short range missile, i.e. a missile with a high off-boresight tracking capability such as ASRAAM. Additionally the data can be used to augment that of CAPTOR or off-board sensor information via the AIS. This should enable the Typhoon to overcome severe ECM environments and still engage its targets. PIRATE also has a passive ranging capability although the system remains limited when providing passive firing solutions, as it does not have a laser rangefinder.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is fitted with two Eurojet EJ200 engines, each capable of providing up to 60 kN (13,500 lbf) of dry thrust and >90 kN (20,230 lbf) with afterburners. Using the ‘war’ setting, dry thrust increases by 15% to 69 kN per engine and afterburners by 5% to 95 kN per engine and for a few seconds, up to 102 kN thrust without damaging the engine. The EJ200 engine combines the leading technologies from each of the four European companies, using advanced digital control and health monitoring; wide chord aerofoils and single crystal turbine blades; and a convergent / divergent exhaust nozzle to give excellent thrust-to-weight ratio, multimission capability, supercruise performance, low fuel consumption, low cost of ownership, modular construction and significant growth potential.
The Typhoon is capable of supersonic cruise without using afterburners (referred to as supercruise). Air Forces Monthly gives a maximum supercruise speed of Mach 1.1 for the RAF FGR4 multirole version, however in a Singaporean evaluation, a Typhoon managed to supercruise at Mach 1.21 on a hot day with a combat load. The Eurofighter Company states that the Typhoon can supercruise at Mach 1.5. As with the F-22, the Eurofighter can launch weapons while under supercruise to extend their ranges via this “running start”.
In 2007, the EJ200 engine had accumulated 50,000 Engine Flying Hours in service with the four Nation Air Forces (Germany, UK, Spain and Italy).
In addition to the potential for increases in thrust of up to 30%, the EJ200 engine has the potential to be fitted with Thrust Vectoring Nozzles (TVN), that the Eurofighter and Eurojet consortium have been actively developing and testing, primarily for export, but also for future upgrades of the fleet. TVN could reduce fuel burn on a typical Typhoon mission by up to 5%, as well as increase available thrust in supercruise by up to 7% and take-off thrust by 2%.
The Typhoon’s combat performance, compared to the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II fighters and the French Dassault Rafale, has been the subject of much discussion. In March 2005, United States Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. Jumper, then the only person to have flown both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Raptor, talked to Air Force Print News about these two aircraft. He said,
The Eurofighter is both agile and sophisticated, but is still difficult to compare to the F/A-22 Raptor. They are different kinds of airplanes to start with; it’s like asking us to compare a NASCAR car with a Formula One car. They are both exciting in different ways, but they are designed for different levels of performance. …The Eurofighter is certainly, as far as smoothness of controls and the ability to pull (and sustain high G forces), very impressive. That is what it was designed to do, especially the version I flew, with the avionics, the color moving map displays, etc. – all absolutely top notch. The maneuverability of the airplane in close-in combat was also very impressive. The F/A-22 performs in much the same way as the Eurofighter. But it has additional capabilities that allow it to perform the [U.S.] Air Force’s unique missions.
In the 2005 Singapore evaluation, the Typhoon won all three combat tests, including one in which a single Typhoon defeated three RSAF F-16s, and reliably completed all planned flight tests. In July 2009, Former Chief of Air Staff for the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, said that “The Eurofighter Typhoon is an excellent aircraft. It will be the backbone of the Royal Air Force along with the JSF”.
In July 2007, Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighters participated in the Indra-Dhanush exercise with the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon. This was the first time that the two fighters had taken part in such an exercise. The IAF did not allow their pilots to use the MKI’s radar during the exercise to protect the highly classified Russian N011M Bars.The IAF pilots were impressed by the Typhoon’s agility.
In 2015, Indian Air Force Su-30MKIs participated in the Indra-Dhanush exercise with Royal Air Force Typhoons. At the end of this exercise, the IAF claimed they had “beaten” the RAF 12-0, however this was viewed as wildly inaccurate and, according to the Independent, “clearly designed for a domestic audience”, a position also supported by the UK Ministry of Defence and Royal Air Force making these statements respectively: “As you would expect, advanced military capabilities are rarely operated to the limits of their potential, especially when exercising against other nations’ aircraft. This exercise was no exception for the Typhoon Force”, and “Our analysis does not match what has been reported, RAF pilots and the Typhoon performed well throughout the exercise with and against the Indian Air Force. Both forces learnt a great deal from the exercise and the RAF look forward to the next opportunity to train alongside the IAF.” When asked about the results of the 4 vs 4 and 8 vs 8 engagements the Indian Air Force spokesman refused to comment saying only ‘losses were to be expected’ and blaming ground controllers.
The Typhoon is a multi-role fighter with maturing air-to-ground capabilities. The initial absence of air-to-ground capability is believed to have been a factor in the type’s rejection from Singapore’s fighter competition in 2005. At the time it was claimed that Singapore was concerned about the delivery timescale and the ability of the Eurofighter partner nations to fund the required capability packages. Tranche 1 aircraft could drop laser-guided bombs in conjunction with third-party designators but the anticipated deployment of Typhoon to Afghanistan meant that the UK required self-contained bombing capabilities before the other partners. On 20th July 2006, a £73m deal was signed for Change Proposal 193 (CP193) to give an “austere” air-to-surface capability using GBU-16 Paveway II and Rafael/Ultra Electronics Litening III laser designator for the RAF Tranche 1 Block 5 aircraft. Aircraft with this upgrade were designated Typhoon FGR4 by the RAF.
Similar capability was added to Tranche 2 aircraft on the main development pathway as part of the Phase 1 Enhancements. P1Ea (SRP10) entered service in 2013 Q1 and added the use of Paveway IV, EGBU16 and the cannon against surface targets. P1Eb (SRP12) added full integration with GPS bombs such as GBU-10 Paveway II, GBU-16 Paveway II, Paveway IV and a new real-time operating system that allows multiple targets to be attacked in a single run. This new system will form the basis for future weapons integration by individual countries under the Phase 2 Enhancements. The Storm Shadow and KEPD 350 (Taurus) cruise missiles, together with the Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air missile flight trials have been successfully completed by January 2016. The Storm Shadow and Meteor firings are part of the Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) programme which will introduce a range of new and improved long range attack capabilities to Typhoon. Operational testing and evaluation of those capabilities is currently ongoing with the Royal Air Force ahead of entry into service in 2018. In addition to Meteor and Storm Shadow, the first live firing of MBDA’s Brimstone air-to-surface missile, part of the Phase 3 Enhancements (P3E) programme, was successfully completed in July 2017. German aircraft can carry four GBU-48 1000 lb bombs.
An anti-shipping capability is required by 2017, and such a capability is also important for potential export customers such as India; Eurofighter is studying integrating the Boeing Harpoon or MBDA Marte or Sea Brimstone missiles onto the Typhoon for a maritime attack capability. The Typhoon can accommodate two RBS-15 or three Marte-ERP under each wing but neither has been integrated yet.
In addition to the missile armament options, the Typhoon also carries a specially developed variant of the Mauser BK-27 27mm cannon armament that was developed originally for the Panavia Tornado. This is a single-barrel, electrically fired, gas-operated revolver cannon with a new linkless feed system, capable of firing up to 1700 rounds per minute. There was a proposal on cost grounds in 1999 to limit this gun-armament fit to the first 53 batch-1 aircraft destined for the RAF, only on the basis that the guns would be used as ballast and not used operationally, but this decision was reversed in 2006.
Austrian Air Force
On 2nd July 2002, the Austrian government announced its decision to buy the Typhoon as its new air defence aircraft, it having beaten the General Dynamics F-16 and the Saab JAS 39 Gripen in competition. The purchase of 18 Typhoons was agreed on 1st July 2003, and included training, logistics, maintenance and a simulator. On 26th June 2007, Austrian Minister for Defense Norbert Darabos announced a reduction to 15 aircraft. The first aircraft (7L-WA) was delivered on 12th July 2007 to Zeltweg Air Base and formally entered service with the Austrian Air Force. A 2008 report by the Austrian government oversight office, the Rechnungshof, calculated that instead of getting 18 Tranche 2 jets at a price of €109 million each, as stipulated by the original contract, the revised deal agreed by Minister Darabos meant that Austria was paying an increased unit price of €114 million for 15 partially used, Tranche 1 jets. In July 2008, the Luftstreitkräfte assigned the Eurofighter to Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duties, by the end of the year they had been scrambled 73 times.
Austrian prosecutors are investigating allegations that up to €100 million was made available to lobbyists to influence the original purchase decision in favour of the Eurofighter. By October 2013, all Typhoons in service with Austria had been upgraded to the latest Tranche 1 standard. In 2014, due to defense budget restrictions, there were only 12 pilots available to fly the 15 aircraft in Austria’s Air Force. In February 2017, Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil accused Airbus of fraudulent intent following a probe that allegedly unveiled corruption linked to the order of Typhoon jets.
In July 2017, the Austria Defense Ministry announced that it would be replacing all of its Typhoon aircraft by 2020. The ministry said that continued use of its Typhoons over their 30-year life–span would cost about €5 billion with the bulk being for maintenance. It estimated that buying a new fleet of 15 single–seat and 3 twin–seat fighters would save €2 billion over that period. Austria plans to explore a government-to-government sale or lease agreement to avoid a lengthy and costly tender process with a manufacturer. Possible replacements include the Saab Gripen and the F-16.
German Air Force
On 4th August 2003, the German Air Force accepted their initial first series production Eurofighter (30+03) starting the replacement process of the Mikoyan MiG-29s inherited from the East German Air Force in 1990. The first Luftwaffe Wing to accept the Eurofighter was Jagdgeschwader 73 “Steinhoff” on 30th April 2004 at Rostock–Laage Airport. The second Wing was Jagdgeschwader 74 (JG74) on 25th July 2006, with four Eurofighters arriving at Neuburg Air Base, beginning the replacement of JG74’s McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantom IIs. The Luftwaffe assigned their Eurofighter Typhoons to QRA on 3rd June 2008, taking over from the F-4F Phantom II.
Italian F-2000A Typhoon MM7286 of 936° GEA landing at Rivolto Air Base, September 2015. On 28th October 2014, while deployed to Ämari Air Base in Estonia as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, German Eurofighters scrambled and intercepted seven Russian Air Force aircraft over the Baltic Sea.
Italian Air Force
On 16th December 2005, the F-2000 Typhoon reached initial operational capability (IOC) with the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare). Its F-2000 Typhoons were put into service as air defence fighters at the Grosseto Air Base, and immediately assigned to Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) at the same base.
On 17th July 2009, Italian Air Force F-2000A Typhoons were deployed to protect Albania’s airspace.
On 29th March 2011, Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons began flying combat air patrol missions in support of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector in Libya.
Between January and August 2015, four Aeronautica Militare F-2000A Typhoons (from 36º and 37º Stormo) were deployed to Šiauliai Air Base in northern Lithuania as part of the Baltic Air Policing mission.
Kuwait Air Force
In June 2015, it was reported that Kuwait was in talks with the Italian Air Force and Alenia Aermacchi about the potential purchase of up to 28 Eurofighter Typhoons for two squadrons. On 11th September 2015, Eurofighter confirmed that an agreement had been reached to supply Kuwait with 28 aircraft. On 1st March 2016, the Kuwaiti National Assembly approved the procurement of 22 single-seat and six twin-seat Typhoons, which will be assembled at Caselle, Italy. On 5th April 2016, Kuwait signed a contract with Leonardo valued at €7.957 billion (US$9.062 billion) for the supply of the 28 aircraft, all to third tranche standard. The Kuwaiti aircraft will be the first Typhoons to receive the Captor-E active electronically scanned array radar, with two instrumented production aircraft from the UK and Germany currently undergoing ground-based integration trials. The Typhoons will be fitted with Leonardo’s Praetorian defensive aids suite and PIRATE infrared search and track system. The contract involves the production of aircraft in Italy and covers logistics, operational support and the training of flight crews and ground personnel. It also encompasses infrastructure work at the Ali Al Salem Air Base, where the Typhoons will be based. Aircraft deliveries will begin in 2020.
Qatar Emiri Air Force
From January 2011 the Qatar Air Force evaluated the Typhoon, alongside the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, the Dassault Rafale, and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, to replace its then inventory of Dassault Mirage 2000-5s. By June 2014 Dassault claimed it was close to signing a contract with Qatar for 72 Rafales. On 30th April 2015 Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani announced to President François Hollande that Qatar would order 24 Rafales.
On 17th September 2017, the UK government announced that Qatar had signed a Statement of Intent to procure 24 Eurofighter Typhoons. On 28th November, Chris Boardman, managing director of BAE Systems Military Air and Information business, told the British Parliament’s Defence Select Committee that negotiations between the UK and Qatar, for the purchase of Typhoon fighters (and Hawk jet trainers) were complete, and the two sides were looking for a suitable date to sign the deal. On 10th December a deal for Qatar to buy 24 jets, including a support and training package from BAE, with deliveries due to start in 2022, was announced in Doha by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and his Qatari counterpart, Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah. In September 2018, Qatar made the first payment for the procurement of 24 Eurofighter Typhoons and 9 BAE Hawk aircraft to BAE Systems, making the contract effective according to BAE.
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force’s first Typhoon Development Aircraft (DA-2) ZH588 made its maiden flight on 6th April 1994 from British Aerospace Warton. On 1st September 2002, No. XVII (Reserve) Squadron was reformed at BAE Warton as the Typhoon Operational Evaluation Unit (TOEU), receiving its first aircraft on 18th December 2003. The first RAF production aircraft to take to the air was ZJ800 (BT001) on 14th February 2003 from BAE Warton, completing a 21-minute flight. The next Typhoon squadron to be formed was also at BAE Warton in September 2003 when No. 29 (R) Squadron was formed as the Typhoon Operational Conversion Unit (OCU). The first operational RAF Typhoon squadron to be formed was No. 3 (Fighter) Squadron on 31st March 2006, when it moved to RAF Coningsby.
No. 3 (F) Squadron Typhoon F2s took over Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) responsibilities from the Panavia Tornado F3 on 29th June 2007, initially alternating with the Tornado F3 every month. On 9th August 2007, the UK’s Ministry of Defence reported that No. XI (F) Squadron of the RAF, which stood up as a Typhoon squadron on 29th March 2007, had taken delivery of its first two multi-role Typhoons. Two of No. XI (F) Squadron’s Typhoons were sent to intercept a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 approaching British airspace on 17th August 2007. The RAF Typhoons were declared combat ready in the air-to-ground role by 1st July 2008. The RAF Typhoons were projected to be ready to deploy for operations by mid-2008.
On 12th September 2009, four RAF Typhoon FGR4s were deployed to RAF Mount Pleasant from RAF Coningsby replacing the Tornado F3s of No. 1435 Flight defending the Falkland Islands. The government of Argentina “is understood to have made a formal protest”. On 28th January 2010, Typhoon FGR4s were spotted carrying No. 6 Squadron tail codes at RAF Coningsby. No. 6 Squadron stood up at RAF Leuchars on 6 September 2010, making Leuchars the second RAF base to operate the Typhoon.
A Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon F2 (ZJ932) of No. XI (F) Squadron escorting a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean, August 2008
In March 2011, the UK deployed Typhoons, alongside Panavia Tornado GR4s, to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya. On 20th March, ten Typhoons from RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars arrived at the Gioia del Colle airbase in southern Italy. On 21st March, RAF Typhoons flew their first-ever combat mission while patrolling the no-fly zone. On 29th March, it was revealed that the RAF was short of pilots to fly the required number of sorties over Libya and were having to divert personnel from Typhoon training to meet the shortfall.
On 12th April 2011, a mixed pair of RAF Typhoon and Tornado GR4 dropped precision-guided bombs on ground vehicles operated by Gaddafi forces that were parked in an abandoned tank park. Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, revealed during the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aerospace 2011 conference in London that each aircraft dropped one GBU-16 Paveway II 454 kg (1,000 lb) laser-guided bomb which struck “very successfully and very accurately”. The event represented “a significant milestone in the delivery of multi-role Typhoon.” Target designation was provided by the Tornados with their Litening III targeting pods due to the lack of Typhoon pilots trained in air-to-ground missions.
The National Audit Office observed in 2011 that the distribution of the Eurofighter’s parts supply and repairs over several countries has led to parts shortages, long timescales for repairs, and the cannibalisation of some aircraft to keep others flying. The UK’s then Defence Secretary Liam Fox admitted on 14th April 2011 that Britain’s Eurofighter Typhoon jets were grounded in 2010 due to shortage of spare parts. The RAF has been “cannibalising” aircraft for spare parts in a bid to keep the maximum number of Typhoons operational on any given day. The Ministry of Defence had warned the problems were likely to continue until 2015.
In July 2012, UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond suggested that a follow-on buy of F-35A aircraft would be determined by the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015, with the aim of replacing UK’s Typhoons around 2030. The UK is to decide what mix of manned and unmanned aircraft will replace its Eurofighters sometime between 2015 and 2020. On 15th September 2012, No. 1 (F) Squadron stood up at RAF Leuchars, joining No. 6 Squadron as the second Typhoon unit to operate in Scotland. On 22nd April 2013, No. 41 (R) Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) began operating and testing the Typhoon from RAF Coningbsy after inheriting aircraft from No. XVII (R) Squadron after it disbanded on 12th April, with it becoming the TES for the F-35B. It was announced on 13 December 2013 that No. II (AC) Squadron would become the fifth Typhoon Squadron to convert from the Panavia Tornado and reform at RAF Lossiemouth from 1st April 2015. However, on 2nd October 2014, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that No. II (AC) Squadron would remain a Tornado squadron until March 2016 due to the airstrikes against Daesh in Operation Shader.
By July 2014, a dozen RAF Tranche 2 Typhoons had been upgraded with Phase 1 Enhancement (P1E) capability to enable them to use the Paveway IV guided bomb; the Tranche 1 version had used the GBU-12 Paveway II in combat over Libya, but the Paveway IV can be set to explode above or beneath a target and to hit at a set angle. The British are aiming to upgrade their Typhoons to be able to carry the Storm Shadow cruise missile and Brimstone air-to-ground missile by 2018 to ensure they have manned aircraft configured with strike capabilities with trained crews by the time the Tornado GR4 is retired the following year; the Defence Ministry is funding research for a common launcher system that could also drop the Selective Precision Effects at Range (Spear) III networked precision-guided weapon from the Typhoon, which is already planned for the F-35. RAF Tranche 1 Typhoons are too structurally and technically different from later models so the British have decided that, beginning in 2015 or 2016, the older models will be switched out for Tranche 2 and 3 versions, a process that will remove the Tranche 1 aircraft from service around 2020 to be stripped for parts to support newer versions.
No. II (AC) Squadron finally became the fifth RAF Typhoon squadron on 12th January 2015 at RAF Lossiemouth after the reformation of No. 12 (Bomber) Squadron as a Tornado GR4 unit on 9th January. On 1st July 2015, it was reported that Typhoons from No. II (AC) Squadron were training with Type 45 destroyers in an Air-Maritime Integration (AMI) role, conceding that the service had recently neglected the role following the decommission of the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft. In the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR), it was decided to retain some of the Tranche 1 aircraft to increase the number of front-line squadrons from five to seven and to boost the out-of-service date from 2030 to 2040 as well as implementing the Captor-E AESA radar in later tranches. It was announced that Typhoons would be deployed to Malta as security for the 2015 CHOGM.
22 RAF Typhoons in a ‘100 formation’ over London during the RAF100 Flypast, July 2018
Due to the limited ground attack capabilities of the RAF Typhoons in the campaign against ISIL, the UK has delayed the retirement of one squadron of Tornados and is attempting to bring forward the deployment of Brimstone missiles on the Eurofighters to 2017. On 3rd December 2015, six Typhoon FGR4s deployed to RAF Akrotiri to support operations against ISIL. The following evening the Typhoons, accompanied by Tornados, attacked targets in Syria.
In October 2016, four Typhoon FGR4s from No. II (AC) Squadron, supported by an Airbus Voyager KC3 aerial tanker and a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, deployed to Misawa Air Base in Japan for the first bilateral exercises with non-US forces hosted by the JASDF.
On 14th December 2017, it was announced No. 12 (B) Squadron would stand up in the future as a joint RAF/Qatari Air Force squadron, with the Qatari crew temporarily operating to prepare them for their own Typhoon deliveries in 2022. On 29th January 2018, RAF Air Command announced that 16 twin-seat Typhoons would undergo the Return to Produce (RTP) process in an effort to save £800 million, with each airframe producing £50m of spare parts similar to the RTP programme on the Tornado. This move also reflected the switch from two–seat trainer to single–seat pilot training and greater use of training simulators. In addition, the two–seat airframes were primarily from Tranche 1 and could not be equipped with Tranche 3 and later upgrades such as Captor-E. In July, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, announced that the next Typhoon squadron to form would be No. IX (B) Squadron after the retirement of the Tornado GR4 from service.On 24th July, No. 12 (B) Squadron officially stood up as a Typhoon squadron at Horse Guards in London. On 10th December, the MBDA Meteor missile was declared operational on RAF Typhoons, as part of Project Centurion which aims to replace the Tornado GR4’s role.
In February 2019, No. IX (B) Squadron received its first Typhoon FGR4s. Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth scrambled on 29th March to intercept a pair of Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjacks’ who were approaching UK airspace.No. IX (B) Squadron officially converted from the Tornado GR4 to the Typhoon FGR4 on 1st April, becoming an aggressor and air defence squadron at Lossiemouth. Four Typhoons of No. XI (F) Squadron deployed from RAF Coningsby to Ämari Airbase, Estonia, on 24th April to undergo a four month long NATO Baltic policing mission (Op AZOTIZE). Five Typhoons of No. 6 Squadron participated in the Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE) in Sweden from 22nd May to 4th June. By 25th June, No. XI (F) Squadron had carried out 11 QRA launches against Russian military aircraft. No. 12 (B) Squadron were assigned their first Typhoon FGR4 in July 2019.
The 160th, and last, Typhoon (ZK437) was delivered to the RAF on 27th September 2019.
Royal Air Force of Oman
During the 2008 Farnborough Airshow it was announced that Oman was in an “advanced stage” of discussions towards purchasing Typhoons as a replacement for its SEPECAT Jaguar aircraft. Through 2010 Oman remained interested in ordering Typhoons, though the Saab JAS 39 Gripen was also being considered. In the interim Oman ordered 12 additional F-16s in December 2011. On 21st December 2012, the Royal Air Force of Oman became the Typhoon’s seventh customer when BAE Systems and Oman announced an order for 12 Typhoons to enter service in 2017. The first of the Typhoons (plus Hawk Mk 166) ordered by Oman were, according to a BAE Systems’ press release, “formally presented to the customer” on 15th May 2017. The presentation included a flypast by a Royal Air Force of Oman Typhoon.
Royal Saudi Air Force
On 18th August 2006, it was announced that Saudi Arabia had agreed to purchase 72 Typhoons. In December 2006, it was reported in The Guardian that Saudi Arabia had threatened to buy French Rafales because of a UK Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Al Yamamah (“the dove”) defence deals which commenced in the 1980s.
On 14th December 2006, Britain’s attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, ordered that the Serious Fraud Office discontinue its investigation into the BAE Systems’ alleged bribery to senior Saudi officials in the al-Yamamah contracts, citing “the need to safeguard national and international security”. The Times raised the possibility that RAF production aircraft would be diverted as early Saudi Arabian aircraft, with the RAF forced to wait for its full complement of aircraft. This arrangement would mirror the diversion of RAF Tornados to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). The Times also reported that such an arrangement would make the UK purchase of its Tranche 3 commitments more likely. On 17th September 2007, Saudi Arabia confirmed it had signed a GB£4.43 billion contract for 72 aircraft. 24 aircraft would be at the Tranche 2 build standard, previously destined for the UK RAF, the first being delivered in 2008. The remaining 48 aircraft were to be assembled in Saudi Arabia and delivered from 2011, but following contract renegotiations in 2011 it was agreed that all 72 aircraft would be assembled by BAE Systems in the UK, with the last 24 aircraft being built to Tranche 3 capability. Saudi Arabia was reported to be considering an order of 24 additional jets. Later reports revised that number to as high as 60 or 72, but this may have been superseded by Saudi Arabia’s decision in August 2010 to purchase 84 new F-15SAs.
On 29th September 2008, the United States Department of State approved the Typhoon sale, required because of a certain technology governed by the ITAR process which was incorporated into the MIDS of the Eurofighter.
On 22nd October 2008, the first Typhoon in the colours of the Royal Saudi Air Force flew for the first time at BAE Systems’ Warton Aerodrome, marking the start of the test flight programme for RSAF aircraft. Following the official handover of the first Typhoon to the Royal Saudi Air Force on 11th June 2009, the delivery ferry flight took place on 23rd June 2009. Since 2010, BAE Systems has been training Saudi Arabian personnel at their factory in Warton, in preparation for setting up an assembly plant in Saudi Arabia.
By 2011, 24 Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoons had been delivered to Saudi Arabia, consisting of 18 single-seat and 6 two-seat aircraft. After that, BAE and Riyadh entered into discussions over configurations and price of the rest of the 72-plane order. Deliveries resumed in early 2013, with the discussions still going on, with four trainers and two more single-seat Typhoons. On 19th February 2014, BAE announced that the Saudis had agreed to a price increase. BAE Systems announced that the last of the original 72 Typhoons had been delivered to Saudi Arabia in June 2017 .
Saudi Arabia’s UK-supplied Eurofighter Typhoons are playing a central role in the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.
In February 2015, Saudi Typhoons attacked ISIS targets over Syria using Paveway IV bombs for the first time.
In October 2016, it was reported that BAE Systems was in talks with Saudi Arabia about an order for another 48 aircraft. On 9th March 2018, a memorandum of intent for the additional 48 Typhoons was signed during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the United Kingdom.
In September 2017 a Saudi Typhoon involved in close air support mission against Houthi fighters over Yemen crashed into a mountain in Al Wade’a district, reportedly due to a technical malfunction. The pilot died in the crash.
Spanish Air Force
The first Spanish production Eurofighter Tifón to fly was CE.16-01 (ST001) on 17th February 2003, flying from Getafe Air Base. CE.16-01 was the first to be delivered when the Spanish Air Force accepted delivery of it on 5th September 2003 at Morón Air Base. The Spanish Air Force assigned their Tifóns to QRA responsibilities in July 2008, the last of the original five customers, with it operating alongside McDonnell Douglas EF-18M Hornets and Dassault Mirage F1Ms.
A Spanish Air Force Typhoon, on a training exercise near Otepää in Estonia, released an AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile by mistake on 7th August 2018. There were no human casualties, but the ten-day search operation for missile remains was unsuccessful and the unknown status of the missile (self-destructed in air or landing unexploded) left a hazardous situation for the public. The pilot was disciplined for negligence, but received only the minimum penalty in the light of mitigating circumstances.
Eurofighter Typhoons available to order from Flying Tigers.
Check out the latest Hobbymaster Eurofighter Typhoon ZJ927 “QO-M”, 3 Sqn., RAF, Libya 2011. Please click on the images or links below to go straight to the model page to order.
Hobbymaster Latest Model Announcements
Hobbymaster have just announced their latest models and they are now available to pre-order at Flying Tigers today. Many of these models have extremely low worldwide production quantities, so please order early to avoid disappointment.
Don’t forget NO DEPOSIT necessary with Flying Tigers and if you order with your debit or credit card your payment is not taken until your model is available to dispatch.
Flying Tigers will also consolidate your orders to save on postage costs across all brands !
Please click on the image of your choice to go straight to the model page or CLICK HERE to see them all.
Air Force One Latest B-17 Announcements
Air Force One have just announced two new B17 Flying Fortress models and they are now available to pre-order at Flying Tigers today.
Don’t forget NO DEPOSIT necessary with Flying Tigers and if you order with your debit or credit card your payment is not taken until your model is available to dispatch.
Flying Tigers will also consolidate your orders to save on postage costs across all brands !
Please click on the image of your choice to go straight to the model page.
Compass Models Announcements
Check out the latest Compass model releases which are now available to pre-order at Flying Tigers today.
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Hobbymaster Updated Photo Gallery.
Check out the latest photos from Hobbymaster that have now been added to the Flying Tigers website. Please click on the image of your choice to go straight to the model page.
That is all for this week.
Thank you for reading this week’s Newsletter.