Typhoon arises: the Eurofighter Typhoon, though often criticized, represents the state-of-the-air in European military technology.
The Typhoon has all the capabilities typical for modern, fourth-generation fighters. It has a powerful radar of impressive range, target-tracking, and electronic-counter-countermeasures (ECCM) capabilities, as well as modern, beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles. It will be equipped with an even more powerful, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and longer-range BVR missiles in the form of Meteors. It also has tremendous maneuverability and dynamic flight characteristics in terms of acceleration, climb, and a wide flight envelope, which makes it a demanding enemy in a dogfight. The Typhoon will have a helmet-mounted display integrated in the subsequent tranches of aircraft, with agile air-to-air missiles slaved to the helmet cueing system. In an attack role, the aircraft will be able to perform standoff strikes against well-defended targets. It will be also able to engage ground targets with various types of weapons regardless of weather, day and night. Weapons load and combat radius are also high, enabling a considerable punch against a ground target, even deep inside enemy territory, suggesting potential usefulness as a suppression-of-enemy-air-defenses (SEAD) and anti-ship platform. The aircraft is also tailored to a network-centric warfare environment: it is equipped with a MIDS data-distribution system and three multifunction color displays. The pilot's workload has been reduced through the automation of many functions and by introduction of a direct-voice-input system together with hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls.
But at the same time, the Typhoon has a relatively large radar cross-section (RCS) as compared to its peers. Some low-observability features were used but not to the extent employed on the F/A-22 Raptor or F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), or even the French Rafale. Detailed figures are classified, but an unofficial source says that the Typhoon has about a 1-squaremeter RCS. Such a figure is quite a good achievement, since it is only about 0.13% of the RCS of the Su-27/30/35 and about 0.2% of the RCS of the MiG-29. However, it is significantly than the F/A-22's figure, which is reportedly in the region of 0.05 sq m. This is one point that brings much criticism to the aircraft. But it has to be considered that the balance between various features and capabilities is always a trade-off of one for the other.
Comparatively simple and less costly radar-cross-section-reduction measures are deemed adequate, such as radar-absorbing materials (RAM) and management of electromagnetic, infrared, and noise signatures. There are other "non-stealth" engineering features to reduce detection: for example, the air intakes are shaped in such a way that the engines' compressor blades are not visible to enemy radars from the front. At the same time, to increase aircraft survivability, an advanced self-protection system was developed. It is also emphasized that, in the F/A-22 and F-35, a low RCS has been achieved at the cost of weapons-payload reduction, mostly due to the lack of external ordnance. One Typhoon representative said to the author: "What is the use of stealth if you don't have weapons?"
The Typhoon is a symbol of state-of-the-art European technology, the product of the European approach to combat aircraft, and an example of European cooperation, with all the resulting advantages and disadvantages. Eurofighter's order log book is currently set at 638 aircraft, and this is a respectable figure, especially when compared with Europe's other two fourth-generation fighters, not to mention Russian industry. Presently, only the US F-35 JSF is to be procured in larger numbers, although no contract for series production has been signed yet. The orders for the F/A-22 are also considerably lower--down to 180 at the time of this writing--and its export potential is next to zero, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its shock-inducing $350-million sticker price. The Eurofighter consortium hopes to sell many aircraft to export customers, although some recent high-profile efforts have failed, such as in Singapore, or are uncertain, such as in Greece. Nevertheless, the market potential of the Typhoon is still high.
The Typhoon's roots can be traced as back as to 1970, when the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) issued Air Staff Target (AST) 396 for a short-take-off/vertical-landing (STOVL) aircraft to replace Jaguars and Harriers in the attack role. In 1972, when the initial experiences of US operations in the Vietnam War were analyzed a new requirement was issued in the form of AST 403, in which secondary air-superiority capabilities were added. The UK realized that development costs of the new aircraft might be too high, so it turned to Germany and France for cooperation. Already at that time, differences between the potential partners were obvious. France also wanted a Jaguar replacement but did not want fighter capabilities so as to create a competitor for its own Mirages. Germany wanted more of a fighter than a strike aircraft, since the country was concerned about a possible Warsaw Pact mass air attack against its territory and also because the Luftwaffe had just fielded new ground-attack aircraft: the Tornado and the Alpha Jet. Meanwhile, the RAF dropped its STOVL requirement, because it decided that it could defend its airbases and, thus, did not need a front-line aircraft that traded performance for the ability to operate from secondary strips. Only in 1979 were the conflicting requirements reconciled so that the three countries could conduct a two-year European Combat Fighter (ECF) study. British Aerospace (now BAE Systems Warton UK), MBB (later DASA and now EADS, Munich Germany) and Avions Marcel Dassault (now Dassault Aviation, Paris, France) were involved in the study from the industrial side.
In the early 1980s, the program accelerated, because the first information about new advanced Soviet air-superiority fighters, the Su-27 and MiG-29, reached the West. A new program, the Future European Fighter Aircraft (F/EFA), was agreed to, and requirements were again discussed. At this stage, France wanted to build a smaller aircraft suitable also for carrier operations, which was not a requirement for the other countries. Moreover, France wanted to lead the program on the basis of its experience in the development of supersonic fighter aircraft. France finally left the F/EFA program in 1985 and built its own technology demonstrator, the Rafale A (see "Storm Warning," JED, June 2005, p. 40.). But, in the meantime, Italy and Spain joined the international effort, although disagreements continued. Germany and Italy, in the face of the introduction of the Tornado IDS, pursued mainly an air-defense and air-superiority fighter with no air-to-ground capabilities. Britain, despite the fact it was also introducing Tornados into service, wanted a multi-role aircraft, and Spain did, too. But the program continued and the partners finally managed to agree. The Eurofighter consortium was established in June 1986.
According to an unofficial statement by a Eurofighter representative, the withdrawal of the French was a relief for the others, since this eliminated many conflicting requirements. The share between the involved companies was 33% for BAe, 33% for MBB, 21% for Aeritalia (now Alenia, Torino, Italy), and 13% for CASA (now EADS-CASA, Getafe, Spain). The balance refers to development of the aircraft. The production share is different and will be discussed later.
Final requirements for the EFA were issued by all four countries in November 1988. Later that same month, the four countries signed a full-scale development contract. Initially, nine prototypes were to be built, but the number was later reduced to seven. Construction of the prototypes started in late 1989, in the twilight of the Cold War, and in, accordance with the requirements set at that time. The first prototype (DAI) was completed in May 1992, and the program seemed to be on track, although the Soviet Union was no more.
Attack and Identification System (AIS)
All of the Typhoon's major sensors were integrated into a single Attack and Identification System (AIS). The AIS mainly consists of the Captor radar the PIRATE infrared (IR) sensor, and the MIDS tactical data-exchange system, as well as associated processing systems.
The $394.2-million contract for development of a production radar was awarded to the EuroRADAR consortium on March 16, 1989. It was initially known as the ECR-90, and the production unit was called the "C-Model," as is common practice in the British defense industry. In September 2000, the radar was named Captor. The first production Captor radar was delivered in March 2001. At the same time, the development example of Captor radar successfully flew in Germany on aircraft DA5.
The Captor is a multimode radar, working in the I/J-band frequency range (8-12 GHz). It has a mechanically steered, grooved, flat (planar) metal antenna, with a diameter of 70 cm. Four electrical servos are used for quick antenna movements horizontally and vertically. The selection of a mechanical scan over a passive electronically scanned antenna was made, because it was assessed that such a solution was proven, and an advanced mechanically scanned antenna could offer better performance than an early electronically scanned antenna. It is now expected that in the future, the radar will receive an active electronically scanning array (AESA).
The 193-kg Captor is a modular design with 61 shop-replaceable units (SPUs) and six line-replaceable units (LRUs). The LRUs are the two receivers, two transmitters, the antenna, and the processor. The radar processor can perform three-billion operations per second and works with the use of ADA software compatible with MIL-STD 2167A. Three separate data-processing channels are used to enable the radar to perform various modes simultaneously. The radar can observe 60 degrees to the left and right horizontally (some sources claim 70 degrees), and the radar range is at least 160 km for targets with an RCS of 5 sq m. Large targets, such as transport aircraft, can be detected at distances of up to 300 km. The radar has several air-to-air modes in which high- medium-, and low-pulse-repetition-frequency regimes are used. The available range of pulse-repetition-frequencies (PRFs) is from 1 to 20 KHz. Among the air-to-air modes are range-while-scan (RWS), track-while-scan (TWS), and velocity search (VS). All of the modes are used for BVR engagement with the use of AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles or, in the future, with the use of Meteors. In track-while-scan mode, 20 targets can be simultaneously tracked, and up to six (some sources says eight) can be simultaneously engaged. Range-while-scan is used for initial target detection, with the radar emitting at low PRF and high power. Velocity scan is used for prioritization of the targets detected, and the radar switches to medium PRF Track-while-scan is the basic mode for air combat and engagement of enemy aircraft. Also, a single-target-track mode is available for engagement of a remote target at the edge of the missile's range. Additionally, the radar has a raid-assessment function that distinguishes individual targets within a group of targets, along with a non-cooperative recognition mode that evaluates target characteristics (counting engine-compressor blades, RCS measurement, etc.) to identify a type of aircraft. The Captor radar also has look-down/shoot-down capabilities. A unique radar feature is the ability to present returns on two multifunction displays in the cockpit, in the vertical and horizontal view, giving the pilot a three-dimensional situational picture.
The MIDS is also extensively used for BVR engagement. It enables the exchange of information between eight Typhoons in formation and with an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, as well as with a ground-based station, such as the nearest air-operations center (AOC). The aircraft typically attack in pairs, with the leading aircraft well forward and having its radar switched off and the trailing aircraft with the radar turned on. When targets are detected, the lead aircraft silently approaches it with its radar in stand-by mode but not emitting. The attack is conducted silently, and, according to some sources, even the mid-course update can be accomplished based on information from the trailing aircraft. In the case of enemy attack, the leading aircraft can perform a break maneuver, and the second aircraft accelerates to engage.
The Captor also has several dogfight modes. For the search and track of maneuvering targets, the vertical-search mode conducts scans in vertical surface sweeps rather than horizontally in descending or ascending bars. There is also a boresight mode for designating a target visible on the head-up display (HUD) and a slaved mode for designating an air target with the use of helmet-mounted cueing system.
The Captor radar will also have some air-to-ground modes, which will be introduced in Tranche 2 aircraft (see below). A Doppler beam-sharpening (DBS) mode will provide a ground picture of one-meter resolution, synthetic-aperture-radar (SAR) mode with 0.3-meter resolution is to be available, as well as ground-moving-target-indication/track (GMTI/T) and fixed-ground-target-track (FTT) modes. The range of the SAR is to be 80 km. A sea-surface-search-and-track mode is to have a range of 130 km. As for other modes, a ground-target rangefinding (GR) mode and a terrain-avoidance mode are to be introduced in Tranche 2. All the above modes are to support various weapons types that could be used against ground or naval targets.
In 1992, the EuroFIRST consortium was selected to develop and deliver the forward-looking-infrared/infrared-search-and-track (FLIR/IRST) unit for Eurofighter. The consortium consisted of FIAR (Milano, Italy) as a leading company, Pilkington Optronics (Glasgow, UK, now Thales Optronics LTd), and Tecnobit (Madrid, Spain). The Passive Infrared Airborne Tracking Equipment (PIRATE) system is to be introduced in a basic version for Tranch 1/Block 5 aircraft and in a full version from Block 8. Full integration with other aircraft systems will be achieved on Tranche 2/Block 10 aircraft, except for German aircraft. The system will use a CCD-type FLIR camera with dual wavebands (3-5 and 8-11 microns). The processing speed of the PIRATE is to be up to 24-million pixels per second. The system will have a long range and a wide sector of search (detailed figures are classified) and will also be able to track multiple targets. Unofficial figures say the maximum range will be about 145 km in favorable conditions, with a 40-km identification range. Up to 200 targets will be able to be observed at a time, with tracking of several in a selected sector. The maximum observation sector, again according to unconfirmed information, is to be 75 degrees horizontally. Despite its name, the full version of PIRATE will also be able to track a designated ground target and present its picture on the helmet-mounted display. It will also be used as a navigation and landing aid. Air-to-air modes will include multiple-target track (MTT), single-target track (STT), and single-target identification (STI).
As with the other complex systems, the history of the Typhoon's Defensive Aid Subsystem (DASS) is not an easy one. By 1991, only two partners had decided to develop a common DASS system and formed the EuroDASS consortium, consisting of GEC Marconi (60%; Basildon, UK, later BAE Systems and now Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems Ltd., a Joint Venture of BAE Systems and the Finmecanica Group) and Elettronica SpA. (40%, Rome, Italy). When Spain decided to go with the DASS, the consortium was joined by Indra Sistemas SA (Madrid, Spain) in 1995. Germany finally signed on, with EADS Defense Electronics (Ulm, Germany) entering EuroDASS in October 2001. The leading company in the EuroDASS consortium is Selex. The $276-million contract for the development of the DASS was awarded to EuroDASS on May 20, 1998. It was followed by a production contract for EuroDASS for Tranche 1, signed on June 23, 2001, worth of $538.4 million. EADS Defense Electronics fully entered the business on August 11, 2005, receiving a production contract for certain components of the DASS for 236 Tranche 2 aircraft, worth $316.6 million.
The DASS is to be a highly modular system. Each DASS has five processors, developed and produced by Radstone Technology PLC (Towcester, UK). The DASS will consists of a radar-warning-receiver/electronic-support-measures (RWR/ESM) unit with an initial frequency range of 100 MHz to 18 GHz (unconfirmed by company or users), which is probably to be increased to 40 GHz for Tranche 2/Block 10. The RWR/ESM system works with the use of a wideband super-heterodyne system able to perform quick searches for electromagnetic emitters. The processor of the RWR/ESM system will be able to locate emitters through triangulation conducted in sequence. The accuracy of the RWR/ESM is to be below one degree in azimuth. The distance of the exact location of emitters (to the sides of the aircraft, where detection will be more accurate) is to be at least 100 km. The identification of emitters will enable threat prioritization, with information presented on a moving map or on any multifunction display as needed.
Another important part of the DASS is a built-in electronic-countermeasures (ECM) system with the same spherical (360-degree) coverage around the aircraft as the RWR/ESM and (probably) the same frequency coverage. The ECM system is to work in several different modes and use directional beams for deception or noise jamming against threat emitters tracked by the RWR/ESM system. According to some sources, this part of the DASS on Italian aircraft was developed by Elettronica and is called Cross Eye. The ECM system will be introduced on Tranche 1/Block 2 aircraft in its basic form and from Tranch 1/Block 5 in its full version.
The missile-approaching-warning system (MAWS) was developed by BAE Systems (Stanmore, UK) on the base of the Plessey (Marylebone, UK; acquired by GEC in the 1990s and later by BAE Systems) and dubbed the PVS 2000. It is an active pulse-Doppler millimeter-wave radar unit that employs three antennas (two in the wing roots and a third in the stern) to cover all around the aircraft. The system was to be later replaced by a passive unit to reduce aircraft emissions. Information published in the press saying that this is to be the PIMAWS system developed by Bodenseewerk Geratetechnik GmbH (BGT; presently Diehl BGT Defence GmbH & Co. KG, Uberlingen, Germany) seems to be incorrect, since neither the companies involved in EuroDASS nor users representatives would confirm it. For all Tranche 2 aircraft, the same MAWS system has been ordered, although its elements are to be produced also by EADS Defense Electronics, Indra Sistemas, and Elettronica.
The laser-warning receiver (LWS) is developed by Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems Ltd. Three sensors are to be mounted (on each side of the front fuselage and one at the bottom of the rear fuselage) on Block 5+ aircraft delivered to the UK RAF, and Spain is also considering it.
The aircraft also has four chaff/flare launchers, all mounted under the wings. Two of them are SaabTech AB (Jarfala, Sweden) BOL dispensers, mounted in the missile rails on the outer under-wing stations. Each can carry 160 chaff rounds, providing a total of 360 on the aircraft. The two remaining dispensers are delivered by Elettronica Aster SpA (Barlassina, Italy). Each can carry 16 large 55mm flares, which gives a total capacity of 32 flares per aircraft. In most cases, these countermeasures are employed in preprogrammed sequences on command by the DASS system.
All of the aircraft are to receive a towed radio-frequency (RF) decoy (with the possible exception of Germany's aircraft, according to a statement by a Luftwaffe spokesman). It will be a version of the BAE Systems (now Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems Ltd. Luton, UK) Ariel towed decoy. Two such decoys will be housed in the rear part of the wingtip pods. The decoy is towed on a 100-meter fiberglass cable and can be deployed at supersonic speeds. (For more information on DASS, see "Eye of the Storm," JED July 2002, p. 61.)
The two first prototypes of the Typhoon were flown with a classic instrumentation panel, but multifunction, cathode-ray-tube (CRT) displays--initially two and later three--were introduced subsequently. In September 1998, it was decided to select Smiths Industries (now Electronic Systems of Smiths Aerospace, Cheltenham, UK), to select modern active-matrix liquid-crystal displays (AMLCD), three per seat (i.e., six total in two-seaters). The displays themselves are being delivered by dpiX (Palo Alto, CA), a subsidiary of Xerox. They are known as Eagle 6 and are 6.25X6.25 inches (158.75X158.75 mm). The screen resolution is 1.024X1.024 pixels. The displays are supplemented by a HUD developed by BAE Systems (Rochester UK). It is of wide-angle (35[degrees] by 25[degrees]) and color-raster type, enabling the presentation of not only flight, navigation and aiming information but also a picture from the PIRATE or the TV camera of a targeting pod on navigation mode.
The Typhoon will also be equipped with the BAE Systems (Rochester, UK) Striker helmet system. It is a binocular, visor-projected, night-vision-capable system, with two small CCD-TV cameras mounted on the helmet sides, enabling the pilot to use the helmet's visor as night-vision goggles (NVGs). The pilot can eject from the aircraft with the helmet on his head at speeds of over 600 knots. The helmet visor is to have full HUD symbology, and in late Tranche 3 later blocks (Block 25+), it will probably be possible to eliminate the HUD entirely, with all functions taken over by the helmet system.
Among the other features worth mentioning in the Eurofighter cockpit is the Direct Voice Input system, developed by Smiths Aerospace (Chehltenham, UK). The system will be able to recognize more than 200 words and phrases to support the functions of buttons and switches (altogether 24) mounted on the stick and throttles.
Under the umbrella contract signed in January 1998 for to production of 620 aircraft, plus an option for a further 90, the aircraft production has been divided into three large tranches. The fixed-price contract for each tranche is being negotiated separately and is covered by separate comprehensive contract for delivery of the aircraft within the tranche. The production contract for Tranche 1 aircraft was signed on Sept. 18, 1998, for the delivery of 148 aircraft and 363 engines. The contract was awarded by the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) with Eurofighter Gmbh (Hallbergmoos, Germany) and Eurojet GmbH (Hallbergmoos, Germany).
Before production started, five so-called "instrumental production aircraft" were produced, and they were used for various operational tests. Those aircraft were included in the Tranche 1 production aircraft. They are officially owned by NETMA but are operated by industry for test and system-enhancement purposes. They will probably never be used by air forces.
The series production of Eurofighter started in 1998. Elements of the aircraft are manufactured by the four partners separately and are assembled in four countries on four separate production lines. In Germany, EADS's factory in Manching was set up for final assembly, although prototypes were assembled in Ottobrunn. In the remaining countries, the production lines are the same as for prototypes (Warton, UK; Cassele, near Torrino, Italy; and Getafe, near Madrid, Spain).
Certain elements and capabilities are being introduced on the aircraft gradually, to spread out the costs over more years, making the whole program more affordable. The production was, thus, divided into batches and, within the batches, into blocks. Batch 1 covers Block 1; Batch 2 covers Blocks 2, 2B and 5; Batch 3 covers Blocks 8 and 10; and Batch 4 covers Block 15. Batches 1 and 2 forms Tranche 1, while Batches 4 and 5 are Tranche 2. (However, since major changes occur within the blocks, the author decided to refer to blocks for aircraft's system descriptions.)
Block 1 covers 30 aircraft, all two-seaters, used for initial crew training and having only basic air-to-air capabilities. The aircraft have the Captor radar in its initial form but do not have the DASS subsystem. They have PSPI standard avionics software and have only basic armament abilities, with AIM-9L and AIM-132A (with some limitations), as well as a BK27 gun. All of the Block 1 aircraft were delivered in 2003 (except for one delivered to Germany in 2004). Total Block 1 production (all two-seaters) included nine for Germany, II for the UK, six for Italy, and four for Spain.
Block 2 aircraft are being delivered in 2004 and 2005 and will consist of 72 aircraft. They are both single and two seaters, with the majority being the former. They have PSP2 standard avionics software, which enables the use of the gun against air targets and the full use of air-to-air missiles: AIM-9L Sidewinder and AIM-132A ASRAAM (the latter of which is used by the RAF.) Discussing the armament options, all of the aircraft within each block will have the same capabilities, regardless of country. The fact that a certain user does not posses and does not use a certain type of weapon does not mean that Typhoons of that user cannot carry it (e.g., German Typhoons will be also capable of employing the ASRAAM, though the Luftwaffe does not operate it).
They have also Direct Voice Input and a MIDS datalink system integrated into the avionics system. The aircraft of Block 2 have also a basic version of the DASS, with RWR/ESM and chaff/flare dispensers fully integrated, along with basic ECM capabilities. Block 2B introduces PSP3 avionics software but is basically the same as Block 2. Earlier Block 2 aircraft are to be retrofitted with the same software, thus becoming Block 2B.
It is the intention of the users to bring all of the earlier-produced aircraft to the same standard, as the new blocks appear. It is a relatively easy task, too, as most of the changes lie in the software area, and since the very early Tranche 2 aircraft (Block 8), all of the planned hardware is to be present on the aircraft.
Block 5, the final block of the Tranche 1 (40 aircraft to be produced), is to attain full air-to-air capabilities and some austere air-to-ground capabilities (mainly for the RAF). It is to be integrated with an analog version of the Iris-T and with the AIM-120B AMRAAM. The gun (except for RAF aircraft, on which the gun is to be non-operational as a money-saving measure) is to be integrated with the system to perform ground strafing as well with the use of the AIS (which presents automatically calculated impact points on the HUD). The aircraft, except for German ones, are to receive the PIRATE sensor and the full version of the DASS. The latter will differ slightly in various countries. Only the RAF is going to use the laser-warning receiver. The towed decoy is to be used by all countries except for Germany, but otherwise, the remaining countries are going to receive the same DASS system. The decoy will probably be available already on Block 2B aircraft, while the laser-warning system will be part of Block 5. Also, on all of the aircraft, the MAWS is to be available starting with Block 5 aircraft. The other features of Block 5 aircraft will include full sensor fusion in the avionics suite, full Direct Voice Input, and full air-to-surface carefree handling (Phase 5 flight-control-system software).
All of the Block 5 aircraft are to carry GBU-10 and GBU-16 Paveway II guided bombs. Up to three GBU-10s (normally two) are to be carried or up to five (normally four) of the GBU-16 are to be carried. Only the RAF wants to get Enhanced Paveway II as part of Block 5, but this capability is still being negotiated between the parties. The RAF also wants the targeting-pod integration in Block 5. The pods selected are the Rafael (Haifa, Israel) Litening 3 for the RAF or Litening 2 for the Luftwaffe. The remaining countries have not yet selected a pod yet but will likely also opt for the Litening 3. Germany selected Litening 2 because it is already used by the Luftwaffe and is produced by Carl Zeiss Optronics GmbH (Oberkochen, Germany). Block 5 systems are to be ready by the end of 2006, and the certification process is to be conducted in early 2007. The aircraft delivered starting in 2007 will be built in accordance to the Block 5 standard.
The contract for Tranche 2 Typhoon aircraft was signed on Dec. 17, 2004, again between NETMA and Eurofighter GmbH. The contract was worth approximately $25 billion and covered delivery of 236 fighters for four nations. On top of Tranche 2. 18 fighters for Austria are also to be produced within Block 8 under a separate contract. The first 96 aircraft of Tranche 2 are to be built as Block 8 aircraft. Block 8 is to include all of the hardware for the Block 10, but the software will not initially support the use of all of the systems to their full levels performance. Once the software of Block 10 becomes available, all of the Block 8 aircraft will be brought up to the Block 10 standard.
The Block 10 aircraft will have enhanced air-to-air capabilities with the integration of the AIM-120C-5 and the digital version of the Iris-T. The aircraft will also carry up to three GBU-24/B Paveway III (with Mk 84 core), GBU-24B/B (with BLU-109A/B core), or GBU-24E/B Enhanced Paveway III guided bombs. Conventional bombs of the "80" family, as well as cluster bombs are to be integrated as well, with the system automatically calculating the impact point and presenting it on the HUD. The aircraft will also receive an advanced digital map generator, new GPS embedded with its inertial-navigation system (INS), and an enhanced DASS. This last enhancement will probably increase the frequency range to 40 GHz, at least for the RWR/ESM portion. Block 10 Typhoons were to be integrated with ALARM anti-radar missiles, but only for the RAF. Anti-radar capabilities are the subject of ongoing negotiations and have not yet been included in Tranche 2 requirements (or contract), but this can change. Block 10 aircraft will be available starting in 2010.
Roughly 40% of the last Tranche 2 aircraft are to be produced in accordance with the Block 15 standard, perhaps starting in 2010. It is assumed that Meteor missiles will be integrated with the Typhoon starting with Block 15. Up to eight missiles are to be carried (identical number as the AIM-120), including four on the edges of the fuselage and four on under-wing stations. The air-to-ground weapons introduced starting with Block 15 are to include KEPD 350 Taurus and Storm Shadow missiles, with two of each type to be carried on the middle stations under each wing in place of 1,000-liter drop tanks. When two of such missiles are carried, the aircraft can carry only a single underfuselage tank for 1,000 liters of fuel. At that time, the Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) are to become available, each carrying 1,500 liters of additional fuel, thereby mitigating the aforementioned deficiency. There is some mystery, however, regarding the number of Taurus and Storm Shadow missiles to be acquired. According to plans, four of these weapons are to be carried, but some sources suggest that the number was reduced to two, only on the middle station under the wings. Taurus was selected by Germany and Spain, while Storm Shadow was selected by the UK and Italy for their Typhoons. Among other air-to-ground weapon is the Brimstone missile, selected only by the RAF. Up to 15 Brimstones are to be carried on five triple launchers, one under the fuselage and four under the wings.
Block 15 for all the countries is to be also integrated with Paveway IV bombs and with GPS-guided GBU-31/32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (IDAMs). The latter will be carried in the same number as the Mk 80 family of bombs. The unguided bombs can be carried in the following number: five of the 907-kg bombs, seven of the 454-kg type, or 12 of 225-kg variety (the latter on triple racks under the wings, the former--including one on the fuselage centerline rack). However, the negotiations on the JDAM are still ongoing. For example, Germany, as of now, has no requirement for GPS-guided bombs, and the German air-to-ground weapons are to be Paveway II and Enhanced Paveway II (EGBU-16) bombs and Taurus missiles, along with unguided bombs.
The delivery of the Tranche 2 and Block 15 aircraft is to be completed by the end of 2015.
The Tranche 3 aircraft have not yet been defined, since the contract for them is expected in next few years. The plans are that Tranche 3 will cover Block 20 and Block 25 aircraft, produced from 2013 to 2015. Tranche 3 most likely will introduce Captor-E radar with an AESA type of antenna, increasing range, and the number of possible target tracks. On the Block 25, it will be probably a NOTAR [not only a radar], highly integrated with the aircraft's avionics and also performing such functions as supporting the ESM and ECM systems.
Special effort is to be directed toward reducing the RCS of the Typhoon. One option being considered, aside from the introduction of new-generation RAM, is the elimination of the vertical tail and replacing its functions with thrust vectoring. In addition, IR signature and electromagnetic emissions are to be reduced considerably.
Block 20 aircraft are also to introduce enhanced naval attack functions, including the carrying of anti-ship missiles of an as-yet-unspecified type. Block 25 is so remote, though that all the features of this version discussed in the press can be treated as pure speculation.
In early 2000, the Eurofighter consortium hoped to sell the Typhoon to many countries around the world. For many potential customers, however, the aircraft was too expensive, since they were looking for less capable, lighter, and cheaper fighters (Poland, the Czech Republic, and Denmark, for example). Eurofighter lost to the Boeing (St. Louis, MO) F-15K in South Korea, most probably due to political considerations, and has also been eliminated from Singapore's ongoing competition, but export prospects for the aircraft still exist, though limited to more wealthy countries.
To date, only Austria selected the Typhoon, in July 2003. Greece also selected the Typhoon but postponed the contract signature. The recent contract for additional 30 F-16C/D Block 52+ for the Hellenic Air Force, though sparked a discussion as to whether Greece would cancel its planned Typhoon procurement altogether. Officially, no such decision has been made, and Greece is to purchase 60 Eurofighters with option for 30 more. Among the other potential customers are Saudi Arabia (requirements for 150 aircraft) and Australia (requirements for 70 aircraft). There is also still an uncertain situation in Norway. The Scandinavian country participates in the JSF program but did not close the door to the Typhoon, and an official decision has yet to be made.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||assessment of Eurofighter Typhoon|
|Comment:||Typhoon arises: the Eurofighter Typhoon, though often criticized, represents the state-of-the-air in European military technology.(assessment of Eurofighter Typhoon)|
|Publication:||Journal of Electronic Defense|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2005|
|Previous Article:||People monitor.|
|Next Article:||Forging ties: India and France team for fighter training.|