Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 ZJ923
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 - ZJ923
Design and Development

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin engine, swing role, canard delta strike fighter aircraft; designed and built by a consortium of European aerospace manufacturers through Eurofighter GmbH. The series production of the Eurofighter Typhoon is now underway and the aircraft has formally entered service with the Royal Air Force, German Air Force, Italian Air Force and the Spanish Air Force.

The history of the Typhoon is a long complex one, mainly due to funding delays and political procrastination, and not through any fault of the design. The types history dates back an amazing thirty five years to 1972 when the RAF issued Air Staff Target 396 (AST-396), a requirement for a new Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) fighter to replace the Harrier, Jaguar and Phantom in the ground attack role. The requirement was refined later the same year under AST-403 for an STOVL air superiority fighter, however this STOVL requirement was later removed and added to AST-409, which in turn led to the development of the Mk II Harrier GR.5, later evolving into the current GR.7 and GR.9.

The AST-403 remained and along with a similar West German requirement was to form the basis of what would eventually become the Eurofighter Typhoon. In 1979 British Aerospace and Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm presented a formal proposal to their respective governments for the ECF, the European Collaborative Fighter or European Combat Fighter. Later joined by 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 that the Eurofighter name was first linked to the aircraft.

Following Dassault’s insistence on "design leadership" and emerging differing national requirements, the ECA project collapsed in 1981. As a result the Panavia partners (BAe, MBB and Aeritalia) launched the Agile Combat Aircraft (ACA) program in April 1982. The influences of the period were quite evident on the proposed design; the Soviet Air Force was close to introducing the Su-27 and MiG-29 into front line service, albeit as part of what was to develop into the final stages of the Cold War. 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 Tornado’s RB199 engine. Following political arguments, project funding was withdrawn by the German and Italian governments, however the UK Ministry of Defence agreed to pay £80 million to fund the project and pay for the construction of a demonstrator aircraft with additional funding later provided by MBB and Aeritalia.

ZF534, the ACA demonstrator was manufactured at Warton and rolled out on 27th October 1985. After extensive ground testing its first flight took place on 8th August 1986, going supersonic in the hands of Chief Test Pilot Dave Eagles. The aircraft contributed a wealth of flight data during a five year test period which ended on 1st May 1991. A total flying time of 195 hours 21 minutes was logged during 259 sorties. ZF534 now resides with Loughborough University in Leicestershire for use as a training aid within the Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering and used in undergraduate design appreciation studies.

The maiden flight of the Eurofighter EF2000 prototype finally took place on 27th March 1994. MBB chief test pilot Peter Weger took the prototype on a test flight around Bavaria. In 1995 political concerns over work share appeared. Since the formation of Eurofighter the work share split had been agreed at United Kingdom 33%, Germany 33%, Italy 21% and Spain 13%, figures based on the number of units being ordered by each contributing nation.

Production is divided into three "tranches" with an incremental enhancement to capability with each tranche. The capability enhancement provided by the tranche 2 contract includes full air-to-ground capability, as well as significant enhancements to the flight control software and the Defensive Aids systems. Tranches are further divided up into batches and blocks.

Eurofighter Typhoon F.2 Eurofighter Typhoon F.2 Eurofighter Typhoon T.1
Operational History

On 4th August 2003, Germany accepted the first series production Eurofighter (GT003). Also that year, Spain took delivery of its first series production aircraft. And on 16th December 2005 the aircraft reached I.O.C. with Italian Air Force as air defence fighter from Grosseto air base. On 9th August 2007, the UK's Ministry of Defence reported that No.XI 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 XI 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 will be ready to deploy for operations by mid-2008. On or around 25th April 2008 a Typhoon from No.17 Squadron at RAF Coningsby, operating at the US Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake test center in California, USA, suffered extensive damage during landing when its landing gear did not deploy, apparently due to pilot error. On 11th September 2008, the combined flying time of the five customer Air Forces and the industrial Flight Test program saw aircraft surpass the 50,000 flight hours milestone.

On 31st March 2009 a Eurofighter Typhoon fired an AMRAAM for the first time whilst having its radar in passive mode, 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 September 2009, 5 RAF Typhoons deployed to RAF Mount Pleasant to begin the mission of defending the Falkland Islands. They replace the Tornado F.3 and are the most sophisticated fighter aircraft in the southern hemisphere. Argentina has made a formal protest at the British escalation.

Production Summary
Tranche 1148 built (44 for Germany, 29 for Italy, 20 for Spain, 55 for UK)
Tranche 2299 built (15 for Austria, 68 for Germany, 46 for Italy, 48 for Saudi Arabia, 33 for Spain, 89 for UK)
Tranche 3260 built (68 for Germany, 46 for Italy, 24 for Saudi Arabia, 34 for Spain, 88 for UK)
Specifications(Typhoon F.2)
Length:52.36ft (15.96m)
Width:35.93ft (10.95m)
Height:17.32ft (5.28m)
Empty Weight:22,024lbs (9,990kg)
MTOW:46,297lbs (21,000kg)
Max Speed:1,255mph (2,020kmh; 1,091kts)
Max Range:864miles (1,390km)
Rate-of-Climb:17,500ft/min (5,334m/min)
Service Ceiling:55,036ft (16,775m; 10.4miles)
Engine:2 x EJ200 afterburning turbofans generating 20,250 lbs of thrust
Armament Standard:1 x 27mm cannon
Armament Optional:Mission specific armament includes:
ASRAAM air-to-air missiles
IRIS-T air-to-air missiles
AMRAAM long range air-to-air missiles
Meteor long range air-to-air missiles
Storm Shadow stand-off missiles
KEPD350 Stand-off missiles
ALARM anti-radar missiles
GBU-10 laser-guided bombs
GBU-12 laser-guided bombs
Brimstone anti-armor weapon
External carrying ordnance up to 6,500 kg (14,330 lbs)