Operational Typhoon now in full swing

Eurofighter Typhoon has proved its swing role capabilities during Operation SHADER, Royal Air Force Air Vice Marshal Gerry Mayhew, Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group, told a media briefing at the Dubai Air Show 2017.

Eurofighter Typhoon has proved its swing role capabilities during Operation SHADER, Royal Air Force Air Vice Marshal Gerry Mayhew, Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group, told a media briefing at the Dubai Air Show 2017.

AVM Mayhew said that Typhoon’s role had matured over two years of operations over Syria and Iraq as part of the coalition offensive against DAESH.

Throughout that time Typhoon has evolved from simply a kinetic operation to a swing role, with the aircraft working effectively alongside many coalition partners. The aircraft is armed air-to-air and air-to-ground every time we leave the ground.

“We have built up a great deal of experience in Typhoon working swing role and working with many other different types of aircraft where we are able to datalink – using the links for both kinetic and air-to-air operations. 

“All the five UK RAF squadrons have cycled through Operation SHADER and we are now into a second rotation of the squadrons.”

AVM Mayhew said that away from deployed operations and QRA activity, his focus for the UK’s Typhoon Force was on growth both in terms of fleet numbers and capability.

“The UK’s Security and Defence Review of 2015 laid out the ambition for the Royal Air Force for Typhoon growth and that objective remains.”

“We are looking forward to bringing on two more Typhoon squadrons in the next few years. Those will be front line squadrons and that will be a continued input into operational growth

“This is also about bringing in capability growth. This includes a new radar and a programme called Project Centurion which is a crossover from Tornado. That is largely the long-range weapon but also Meteor and Brimstone which will be drawn from Tornado onto Typhoon within the next 18 months, which will allow us to retire Tornado in 2019.

“Project Centurion is very important to us and we are holding the companies very much on contract to make sure we meet those timelines to ensure we have an even more effective operational Typhoon Force with the capabilities that come off Tornado.

“But that’s not all. We will continue to grow capability both in software and hardware. For me an essential element of this weapons system is the Helmet Mounted Sight and the freedoms that it delivers. We also made a declaration in 2015 that we would move to the next generation of radar and that’s still our absolute intent.

“The interoperability of F-35 and Typhoon – how they share information — is not something we are dreaming of, it’s something we are doing. It’s a case of using evolving systems, and we are already proving this kind of communications is working between the aircraft and proving the capabilities of the links.

“So it’s an exciting period in this next couple of years. We will have all three Tranches of Typhoon in service in the UK into 2030 and beyond.

2017 has been a busy time for the Eurofighter Typhoon and for the UK RAF in particular. AVM Mayhew said: “All five squadrons are currently involved in an operational cycle both at home and away. This includes QRA which we hold in the UK 24/7 and also in the South Atlantic. For the latter maintaining an 8,000-mile sustainment line is quite a challenge; however, it works thanks to our ‘Whole Force Approach’, working with our partner nations and partner companies.”

Another focus for the RAF in recent months has been TyTAN. He said: “On TyTAN we are working with BAE Systems and looking at how we do more efficient and effective operations. This involves all partner companies working to deliver this supply line. TyTAN has only been running for two years but I am already seeing over 30 per cent efficiencies per flying hour and we are recycling those efficiencies into new capability.

“This is a significant efficiency in the amount of flying hours we are delivering for the cost and it represents an important behavioural change not just for the RAF, who are asking partners to deliver things, but also for our partner companies. Output and capability delivery, those are the prime drivers of TyTAN and will feed into how Typhoon can develop into the future.”

AVM Mayhew said he believes the aircraft is entering an exhilarating period of its life. He said:

It’s a very exciting time and we are very happy with the aircraft. It’s one of those airplanes that if it looks right, it is right. I can tell you, hand on heart as someone who has experience both within the cockpit as well as commanding five front line squadrons and a conversion unit, it is a superb, proven multi-role aircraft.