Eurofighter’s Future: Tranche 3, and Beyond
November 06/17: BAE Systems has completed firing tests of the Brimstone precision strike missile from a Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, paving the way for evaluation by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in 2018. A total of nine firings and nine jettisons were conducted from the aircraft as part of the firm’s Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) package, which aims to transfer capabilities from the Tornado GR4 onto the Eurofighter before the former is taken out of service in 2019. The flight trails, which commenced in July, covered a range of specific release scenarios, testing at various heights, speeds, levels of G-force and in different positions on the aircraft wing and in the launcher. It was also used to perform data analysis and models of the weapon’s performance, and was completed with support from the UK Ministry of Defence, MBDA, QinetiQ, Eurofighter GmbH and the Eurofighter Partner Companies, Airbus and Leonardo.
The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet, and extended through to the most recent F/A-18 Super Hornet variants. Aerodynamically, it’s a half generation ahead of all of these examples, and planned evolutions will place the Eurofighter near or beyond parity in electronic systems and weapons.
The 1998 production agreement among its 4 member countries involved 620 aircraft, built with progressively improved capabilities over 3 contract “tranches”. By the end of Tranche 2, however, welfare state programs and debt burdens had made it difficult to afford the 236 fighters remaining in the 4-nation Eurofighter agreement. A 2009 compromise was found in the EUR 9 billion “Tranche 3A” buy, and the program has renewed its efforts to secure serious export sales. Their success will affect the platform’s production line in the near term, and its modernization plans beyond that.
Eurofighter: Design & Evolution
Eurofighter: What’s Next?
A Weak Core
Typhoon at Sea?
Eurofighter: Industrial Structure & Orders
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