The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine multi-role canard-delta strike fighter aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of European aerospace manufacturers through Eurofighter GmbH which was formed in 1986. However studies began as early as 1979 into what would become the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The series production of the Eurofighter Typhoon is now underway and the aircraft has formally entered service with the Italian Air Force and with the Spanish Air Force. 'Initial Operational Capability' is expected to be declared by Germany and the United Kingdom in 2006. Austria has purchased 18 Typhoons, while Saudi Arabia signed a contract on 18 August 2006 for 72 to be built by BAE Systems.
The United Kingdom had identified a requirement for a new fighter as early as 1971. By 1979 the West German requirement for a new fighter had lead to the development of the TFK-90 concept.
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. 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 that the Eurofighter name was first attached to the aircraft. The development of different national prototypes continued; France with its ACX, the UK with its P.110 and P.106 and West Germany with its TFK-90. 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.
As a result the Panavia partners (BAe, MBB 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 UK Ministry of Defence agreed to fund 50% of the cost with the remaining 50% to be provided 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 the UK, France, Germany, Italy 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. The UK, Germany and Italy opted out and established a new EFA programme.
In Turin on 1985-08-02 Italy, West Germany and the UK agreed to go ahead with the Eurofighter. The announcement of this agreement confirmed that 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, what was to become the Dassault Rafale.
Also in 1985 the BAe EAP was rolled out at BAe Warton, by this time also funded by MBB and BAe itself. The EAP first flew on 1986-08-06.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 - British Aerospace (33%), Daimler-Benz (33%), Aeritalia (21%), and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) (13%).
1986 also saw the establishment of the Munich based Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH to manage development of the project1 and EuroJet Turbo GmbH, the alliance of Rolls-Royce, MTU Aero Engines, FiatAvio (now Avio) and ITP for development of the EJ200.
By 1990 the selection of the aircraft's radar had become a major stumbling block. Britain, 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 underwrite the project and allow GEC to acquire Ferranti Defence Systems from its troubled parent. GEC thus withdrew its support for the MSD2000.
The maiden flight of the Eurofighter prototype took place on March 27, 1994 (then just known as the Eurofighter EF 2000). Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm chief test pilot Peter Weger took the prototype on a test flight around Bavaria. The 1990s saw significant arguments over work share, the specification of the aircraft and even participation in the project.
When the final production contract was signed in 1997, the revised procurement totals were as follows: UK 232, Germany 180, Italy 121, and Spain 87. Production was again allotted according to procurement: British Aerospace (37%), DASA (29%), Aeritalia (19.5%), and CASA (14%).
Costs and delays
The cost of the Eurofighter project has increased from original estimates. The cost of the UK's aircraft has increased from £7 billion to £19 billion and the in-service date (2003; defined as the date of delivery of the first aircraft to the RAF) was 54 months late. Britain's commitment to its 88 Tranche 3 aircraft has been questioned.
In late 1990 it became apparent that the German government was not happy about continuing with the project. The Luftwaffe was tasked to find alternative solutions including looking at cheaper implementations of Eurofighter. The German concerns over Eurofighter came to a head in July 1992 when they announced their decision to leave the project. However, on insistence of the German government some time earlier, all partners had signed commitments to the project and they found themselves unable to leave.
In 1995 concerns over workshare appeared. Since the formation of Eurofighter the workshare split had been agreed at the 33/33/21/13 (United Kingdom/Germany/Italy/Spain) based on the number of units being ordered by each contributing nation. However, all the nations then reduced their orders. Britain 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, Germany was however unwilling to give up such a large amount of work. In January 1996 after much negotiation between UK and German partners, a compromise was reached whereby Germany would take another 40 aircraft from 2012 and a new workshare of 30%, the eventual splits becoming 37/30/20/13 (UK/Germany/Italy/Spain).
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 again delayed its decision. After much diplomatic activity between Britain and Germany, an interim funding arrangement of DM 100 million (€ 51 million) was contributed by the German government in July 1997 to continue flight trials. Further negotiation finally resulted in German approval to purchase the Eurofighter in October 1997.
Though most of the programme's problems have been political, with major delays imposed by funding delays and governmental procrastination, the Typhoon has suffered some minor technical problems.
On 21 November 2002, DA-6, the Spanish two-seater prototype crashed due to an engine problem. The problem was said to be specifically related to the experimental trial standard of engine being used by that aircraft. On 16 January 2006 an RAF Typhoon T1 made an emergency landing at RAF Coningsby. The nosewheel failed to deploy, via either the normal or emergency systems. The aircraft landed on the main gear and used aerodynamic braking whilst simultaneously deploying the brake chute. The nose was then gently lowered, minimising the damage to the aircraft. The pilots vacated the aircraft once a suitable ladder was positioned next to the aircraft. The RAF Typhoon T1 has now been returned to service.
In November 2006 BAE Systems commenced an upgrade programme to bring 43 tranche 1 RAF Typhoons up to a common standard. Scheduled maintenance will take place at the same time as the upgrades.
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 of all 620 aircraft :
In 1999 the Greek government agreed to acquire 60 Typhoons in order to replace its existing second-generation combat aircraft. However, the purchase was put on hold due to budgetary constraints, largely driven by other development programs and the need to cover the cost of the 2004 Summer Olympics. In June 2006 the government announced a 2.2 billion euro multiyear acquisition plan intended to provide the necessary budgetary framework to enable the purchase of a next-generation fighter over the next 10 years. The Typhoon is currently under consideration to fill this requirement, along with the F-22 Raptor, Rafale and F-35 Lightning II.
On July 2, 2002, the Austrian government announced the decision to buy the Typhoon as its new air defence aircraft. The purchase of 18 Typhoons was finalised on July 1, 2003, and included 18 aircraft, training for pilots and ground crew, logistics, maintenance, and a simulator. The future of this order has recently been questioned in the Austrian parliament.
After unsuccessful campaigns in South Korea and Singapore, on 18 August 2006 it was announced that Saudi Arabia will purchase 72 Typhoons. In November and December it was reported that Saudi Arabia had threatened to buy French Rafales because of a UK Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Al Yamamah defence deals which commenced in the 1980s. However on 2006-12-14 it was announced that the Serious Fraud Office was \"discontinuing\" its investigation into BAE. It stated that representations to its Director and the Attorney General had lead to the conclusion that the wider public interest \"to safeguard national and international security\" outweighed any potential benefits of further investigation. On 2007-01-07 it was reported that Saudi Arabia had agreed upon the purchase and would start taking deliveries of 72 Eurofighter jets from UK defence company BAE Systems \"very soon\". The Times has again raised the possibility that RAF production aircraft will be diverted as early Saudi Arabian aircraft, with the service forced to wait for its full complement of aircraft. This arrangement would mirror the diversion of RAF Tornados to the RSAF. However The Times has also reported that such an arrangement will make the UK purchase of its tranche 3 commitments more likely.
Other potential customers of the Typhoon are India , Denmark , Norway, Pakistan and Turkey, while the type was rejected by South Korea and Singapore. Less likely 'prospects' have reportedly included Chile and Brazil.
The Eurofighter has so far been produced in three major versions; seven Development Aircraft (DA), five production standard Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) for further system development and Series Production Aircraft. These Series Production Aircraft are the aircraft now operational with the partner air forces.
Its combination of agility, performance, stealth features and advanced avionics make it one of the most capable fighter aircraft currently in service. Compared to its rivals, Typhoon's cockpit and man/machine interface are claimed to be significantly advanced and intuitive, resulting in a lower pilot workload, building on the early glass cockpits pioneered by aircraft like the F/A-18 and Mirage 2000, looking similar, but working in a much more intuitive and effective way, with given operations requiring fewer pilot inputs. The conventional HOTAS-concept was enhanced with a direct voice input system to allow the pilot to perform mode selection and data entry procedures.
The Typhoon's combat performance, particularly compared to the new F-22A Raptor and the upcoming F-35 fighter under development in the United States and the Dassault Rafale developed in France, has been the subject of much speculation. While making a reliable assessment is impossible with available information, there is a study by the UK's DERA comparing the Typhoon to other contemporary fighters. In it, the Typhoon was second only to the F-22A in combat performance.
In March 2005, United States Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. Jumper, then the only person to have flown both the Typhoon and the Raptor, talked to Air Force Print News about these two aircraft. He said that \"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 1 car. They are both exciting in different ways, but they are designed for different levels of performance\".
In June 2005, Scotland on Sunday reported that, when 'attacked' by two USAF F-15E Strike Eagle strike fighter aircraft, a Eurofighter on a 'Case White' conversion training sortie was able to out-manoeuvre the attacking aircraft and \"shoot them down\" (i.e., achieve radar lock for a long enough period of time to accurately launch missiles, had this been real combat). The Strike Eagle is primarily a ground attack craft (the successor of the F-111 Aardvark), which may have affected the outcome. It is, however, generally agreed that the Eurofighter Typhoon's performance is significantly better than that of the F-15C/D, the current air superiority fighter variant of the F-15.
While the Typhoon lacks the all-aspect stealth technology of the F-22A, the design does incorporate some low-observable features. Its actual detectability on radar is classified. Passive infrared target detection and tracking (air-to-air and air-to-surface) is provided by PIRATE (Passive Infra-Red Airborne Track Equipment), serving also as a navigation and landing aid.
The Typhoon is capable of sustained supersonic cruise without using afterburners. The F-22A is the only other current fighter with supercruise capabilities. According to EADS, the maximum speed possible without reheat is Mach 1.5 in what EF GmbH regard as a 'clean' configuration — e.g., without tanks, but with four BVRAAMs and two IR AAMs. (Supercruise performance drops to Mach 1.3 with a full air-to-air weapons load, including tanks). Rafale's supercruise capabilities have been described as marginal with the current engine (the aircraft failed to demonstrate the capability during the Singapore evaluation), while the F-22 by comparison can supercruise rather faster with a full internal weapons load.
Canards, lightweight construction (>70% carbon fibre composites) and the inherently unstable design with a quadruplex digital control system providing artificial stability, allow superior agility both at supersonic speed and at very low speed. The fly-by-wire system is described as \"carefree\" by preventing the pilot from exceeding the permitted manoeuvre envelope.
In 2002 the MBDA Meteor was selected as the long range air-to-air missile armament of Eurofighter Typhoon . Due to delays in Meteor development, Typhoon will be equipped with the Raytheon AMRAAM as a stop gap measure. The current in-service date for Meteor is predicted to be August 2012.
Typhoon has always been planned to be a swing role tactical fighter with robust air-to-ground capabilities. However the RAF's urgent air-to-ground requirement has driven the integration of an \"austere\" air to ground capability, based on the Rafael/Ultra Electronics Litening III laser designator and the Enhanced Paveway II G/LGB, earlier than was originally planned. A more comprehensive air-to-ground attack capability will be achieved for all partner nations later in the decade. The RAF's capability will now be available in the Block 5 aircraft delivered at the end of Tranche 1 and, by retrofit, on all RAF Tranche 1 jets.
The absence of such a capability is believed to have been of pivotal importance in the type's rejection from Singapore's fighter competition in 2005. When the Typhoon was dropped from the final shortlist the Singaporean Ministry of Defence commented that: \"the committed schedule for the delivery of the Typhoon and its systems did not meet the requirements of the RSAF.\"Flight Daily News reported that Singapore was concerned about delivery timescales and by the Eurofighter partner nations' inability to accurately and finally define the content of the Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 Typhoon capability packages. Singapore needed Tranche 2 capabilities that were 'road-mapped' but which are still unfunded, and wanted them in a timescale that required Tranche 1 aircraft. The then unfunded interim 'austere' air-to-ground capability being developed for the RAF Block 5 aircraft fell far short of the capability required. Despite this, according to Flight Daily News, Typhoon reportedly impressed the RSAF evaluation team enough to be the air force's favoured 'technical solution' though a \"shambolic performance by BAE Systems during the early part of the bidding process\" undermined the Typhoon's chances. By addressing the aircraft's lack of air-to-ground capability, Eurofighter GmbH hopes to increase the Typhoon's appeal to other potential export customers and to make the aircraft more useful to partner air forces.
Testing of the latest air-to-ground Flight Control Software (FCS Phase 5), written by an EADS led team, began in 2006. The software will undergo rigorous testing in all four partner nations and six aircraft will be used for testing and validating the required clearances. Completion of these tests will lead to the final clearances for the Full Operational Capability (FOC) specified under the Main Development Contract. This is expected in early 2007 in time for the first Tranche 1 Block 5 aircraft. Alongside the Phase 5 software tests, the FOC avionics functionality (including the new pilot helmet) is now also undergoing flight testing, following the conclusion of rig tests in 2005. The NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) issued a clearance for flight testing in December 2005.