As Eurofighter Typhoon engages in significant global deployments delivering high levels of effectiveness and reliability, speaking at the Dubai Air Show, the Programme’s Capability Manager, Paul Smith, a former UK RAF Pilot and Fighter Weapons School Instructor, today (November 9th) revealed that work on integrating major new capabilities onto the aircraft is now ‘well advanced’ and ‘delivering promising results’.
Paul Smith said: “We are having one of the busiest Flight Test periods in the Programme’s history and the integration of the enhanced weapons-mix is well advanced and delivering promising results.”
He added: “Throughout 2015 we have been conducting a series of flight tests with our Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) working on the integration of major new weapon-systems capability with a particular focus on both Storm Shadow and Meteor missiles. At the same time, the Eurofighter continues to deliver effective and proven air power in both the Middle East and the Baltic States. This is a dynamically challenging and exciting time for the Programme, with its weapon system capabilities continuing to grow.”
Central to this last month’s capability enhancement work on the Eurofighter Typhoon has been flight testing for the P2E Programme – the Phase 2 Enhancement Capability Update which introduces a broad range of capability enhancements to the aircraft. As well as the Storm Shadow and Meteor missiles, there are enhancements to the radar, DASS (defensive aids sub-system) and other avionics which will enhance the aircraft’s lethality and survivability across all roles.
Smith said: “The testing regime over the last few months has been relentless, and IPA6, a BAE Systems-based Eurofighter Typhoon, made the first flights with the new software and completed the 5th Meteor missile firing. Flight test of multiple enhancements to the integration and functionality of the Laser Designator Pods (LDP) has primarily been carried out by flight test engineers and aircrew from Airbus Defence and Space, Germany. IPA6 has since been joined by Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi’s IPA2 as work on the integration of Storm Shadow continues.”
The effects deliverable by both weapons are enhanced by the high-kinetic characteristics and highly integrated sensors of the Eurofighter Typhoon. This improves the weapons’ range and gives the pilot the situational awareness to employ them most effectively.
Smith continued: “In the last week of October, in the UK, the Customer had a first opportunity to test the new P2E software for themselves through a series of typical operational Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface scenarios. IPA6 was joined by a number of other RAF assets (up to 8 aircraft including IPA6, tankers, co-operators and targets) to conduct Operational Assessment Testing. The flights were conducted by pilots from the UK’s 41 TES (Test and Evaluation) Squadron who gave some positive initial feedback. This early operationally focused input enables industry to make final tweaks to ensure that the final product is tailored to customer air forces requirements.”
He added: “The During November we will see further integration work with Storm Shadow, including missile releases, and preparation for the next Meteor missile firing. Airbus Defence & Space, Spain will join as the fourth Flight Test Centre as IPA4 is cleared to commence testing with a focus on Weapons System Performance and Comms. This is the entire flight test community operating together to deliver real capability enhancement.”
With the P2E enhancements scheduled to be delivered to the Customer in steps between 2015 and 2017 Smith said that work is now underway on the next batch of enhancements, P3E which will enable the Eurofighter Typhoon to deploy several more capabilities including precision-guided air-to-surface weapons at fast-moving targets with low-collateral damage.
Smith told media in Dubai: “Our Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) Programme will enable Eurofighter operators to integrate the Brimstone 2 on the aircraft and will also further enhance other existing weapons capabilities – including Storm Shadow, Meteor, Paveway IV and ASRAAM. We aim to deliver P3E to the Customer in 2017.”
He said: “Beyond P3E, our customers are currently agreeing the content and schedule of future weapon system programmes. These will include avionic enhancements, such as MIDS JTRS, and the potential integration of other weapons such as SDB II and the Marte-ER anti-ship missile, which we know are of interest to some of our customer community. It will also see the integration of Eurofighter’s new E-Scan Radar.”
“Bring all these elements together,” said Smith, “ and it becomes clear why we talk about Eurofighter Typhoon operators having the ‘Combat Edge’ – the situational awareness and a suite of flexible weapons options that offer pilots a real advantage in the battlespace.”