The four-nation Eurofighter Typhoon is a foreplane delta-wing, beyond-visual-range, close air fighter aircraft with surface attack capability. Eurofighter has ‘supercruise’ capability, which enables high-speed flight at sustained speeds of over Mach 1 without the use of afterburner.
Development of the aircraft has been carried out by Eurofighter GmbH, based in Munich, Germany, and wholly owned by BAE Systems of the UK, Alenia Aeronautica of Italy and the EADS Deutschland (formerly DaimlerChrysler) and EADS Spain (formerly CASA), both of which are managed by Airbus Military.
Norway signed an agreement for industrial participation in the project in January 2003, but has not committed to the purchase of the fighter.
The aircraft will remain in service until 2040.
Eurofighter Typhoon production
An overall production contract for 620 aircraft was signed in January 1998 with 232 for the UK, 180 for Germany, 96 for Italy and 87 for Spain. The number of aircraft ordered by the Italian Air Force was reduced from 121 to 96 due to global financial slowdown. By mid-2009, a total of 707 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft had been ordered, including 72 for Saudi Arabia and 15 for Austria.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) received its first Typhoon aircraft in February 2010 for flight testing. IAF tested six aircraft in February 2010, at Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh.
Eurofighter delivered first four Eurofighter Typhoons to the German Air Force’s Jagdbombergeschwader 31 Boelcke Air Wing in 16 December 2009 to execute air-to-ground operations.
In November 2009, EADS announced that it would perform ON aircraft scheduled inspections industrial service (OASIIS) for the Spanish Air Force’s fleet located at Morón Air Base near Seville. The service was provided as part of the ten-year €150m contract which includes maintenance and procurement of consumables for its fleet.
A Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft was delivered to X Gruppo Squadron of the Italian Air Force on 14 July 2010. It is the fourth Italian Squadron to use Eurofighter for patrolling and safeguarding the airspace of Albania.
An intention to purchase 24 Eurofighter Typhoons worth £1.4bn ($2.13bn) for the Royal Air Force of Oman was sent by Oman to the UK in April 2010. Oman placed an order for a batch of 12 of the combat jets in December 2012. The first aircraft in the batch was rolled out in May 2017 and delivered to the Royal Air Force of Oman in the following month.
Series production of Eurofighter Typhoon
Series production of the aircraft is underway at EADS Military Aircraft (Germany), BAE Systems, Alenia Aeronautica and EADS CASA (Spain). The first four series production aircraft for the four participating nations took maiden flights in February 2003 and the Eurofighter Typhoon received type acceptance on 30 June 2003.
First series production twin-seat aircraft were delivered to the German Air Force in August 2003, to the Spanish Air Force in September 2003, to the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in December 2003 and to the Italian Air Force in February 2004. First single-seat batch 2 aircraft were delivered to the four participating nations in early 2005. Deliveries of all 148 Tranche 1 aircraft (including one airframe for fatigue testing) to the four partner nations concluded in June 2008.
All Austrian Armed Forces’ Eurofighters were upgraded to Tranche 1 standard by October 2013.
In July 2009, the RAF signed a £3bn contract for 40 standard Typhoon aircraft. The contract included 24 replacements of the aircraft that were ordered in 2004.
A ten-year contract £2.1bn for the ‘Typhoon Total Availability eNterprise’ (TyTAN) support solution was signed between Leonardo-Finmeccanica, BAE and the RAF in July 2016 to deliver the joint avionics solution (JAS) to support the UK Typhoon fleet until 2026.
More than 550 Typhoon jets have been sold to the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Oman and Saudi Arabia as of 2019.
Germany placed an order for 38 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft in November 2020.
Tranche 2 Eurofighter production
The four participating nations signed the contract for tranche 2 production in December 2004 for €14m. Tranche 2 comprises 236 aircraft, Germany 75, Italy 48, Spain 35 and UK 93, increased from 236 to 251 as 15 tranche 1 aircraft were designated for Austria. First flight of the tranche 2 aircraft was in January 2008. Type acceptance for tranche 2 was received in September 2008 and deliveries began to the UK in October, Italy in November, and Spain in December 2008.
The contract for tranche 2 phase 1 enhancement (P1E) was placed in March 2007. This includes the integration of Raytheon Paveway IV 500lb and Enhanced Paveway EGBU-16 1,000lb guided bombs and a new laser designator pod.
Greece also selected the Eurofighter but a change of government led to a cancellation of the procurement of 60 aircraft.
Austria signed a contract for 18 Eurofighter aircraft in August 2003. The order was reduced to 15 aircraft in June 2007. The first two aircraft were delivered in 2007 with the total deliveries under tranche 1 concluding in September 2009.
In December 2005, it was announced that the Eurofighter Typhoon has been selected by Saudi Arabia. In September 2007, the government of Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence for the purchase of 72 aircraft, under a defence cooperation programme called Project Salaam. 24 aircraft were to be tranche 2 Typhoons previously destined for the RAF. The first of these was delivered in June 2009.
In July 2006, a contract was signed for the software integration of the Lightening targeting pod and Enhanced Paveway II bombs for RAF Typhoons.
Tranche 3 Eurofighter production
A €9bn contract for tranche 3 production was signed in July 2009 at Eurofighter’s Munich office. Two export contracts from Austria (in 2003) and Saudi Arabia (in 2007) were already secured. The campaigns taken up by the Eurofighter partner companies were conducted in Switzerland, India, Japan, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Croatia.
In May 2009, the UK confirmed its final draft contract for participating along with the other three nations of the Eurofighter consortium for tranche 3 production.
Eurofighter Typhoon design
The aircraft is constructed of carbon-fibre composites, glass-reinforced plastic, aluminium lithium, titanium and aluminium casting. Stealth technology features include low frontal radar cross-section, passive sensors and supercruise ability.
The foreplane/delta configuration is intentionally aerodynamically unstable which provides a high level of agility (particularly at supersonic speeds), low drag and enhanced lift. The pilot controls the aircraft through a computerised digital fly-by-wire system which provides artificial stabilisation and gust elevation to give good control characteristics throughout the flight envelope.
The pilot’s control system is a voice throttle and stick system (VTAS). The stick and throttle tops house 24 fingertip controls for sensor and weapon control, defence aids management, and inflight handling. The direct voice input allows the pilot to carry out mode selection and data entry procedures using voice command.
The quadruplex fly-by-wire flight control system has an automatic low-speed recovery system (ALSR) which provides the pilot with visual and audio low speed warning and will, if necessary, automatically take control of the aircraft and return to safe flight.
The BAE Systems striker helmet-mounted symbology system (HMS) and head up display show the flight reference data, weapon aiming and cueing, and the FLIR imagery. BAE Systems TERPROM ground proximity warning system is being fitted.
The cockpit has three multifunction colour head-down displays (MHDD) which show the tactical situation, systems status and EADS digital map displays. An international consortium EuroMIDS, which includes Data Link Solutions of the US, supplies the MIDS low volume terminal provides Link 16 capability for secure transfer of data.
Raytheon Systems Ltd is supplying anti-jam global positioning systems (GPS) for tranche 2.
Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract in August 2010 to deliver inertial measurement units (IMU) for tranche 3A. The IMU is fitted with inertial sensors and built-in redundancy. It was built as part of the aircraft’s flight control system.
The internally mounted Mauser BK27mm gun is a revolver gun system with a linkless-closed ammunition feed system. The Eurofighter Typhoon has 13 hard points for weapon carriage, four under each wing and five under the fuselage. An armament control system (ACS) manages weapons selection and firing and monitors weapon status.
Depending on role, the fighter can carry the following mix of missiles:
- Air-superiority – six BVRAAM (beyond visual range) / AMRAAM air-to-air missiles on semi-recessed fuselage stations and two ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missiles on the outer pylons
- Air interdiction – four AMRAAM, two ASRAAM, two cruise missiles and two anti-radar missiles (ARM)
- SEAD (suppression of enemy air defences) – four AMRAAM, two ASRAAM, six anti-radar missiles
- Multirole – three AMRAAM, two ASRAAM, two ARM and two GBU-24 Paveway III/IV
- Close air support – four AMRAAM, two ASRAAM, 18 Brimstone anti-armour missiles
- Maritime attack – four AMRAAM, two ASRAAM, six anti-ship missiles
The RAF has selected MBDA Meteor for the BVRAAM requirement and Raytheon AMRAAM until Meteor enters service. Meteor uses a new air-breathing ramjet motor for increased range and manoeuvrability.
German, Italian and Spanish Eurofighters carry the imaging infrared IRIS-T air-to-air missile developed by Diehl BGT Defence of Germany. Deliveries began in December 2005. German and Spanish aircraft are also armed with the Taurus KEPD 350 stand-off missile from EADS/LFK and Saab Bofors Dynamics, which has a range over 350km.
RAF Eurofighters carry the MBDA Storm Shadow / Scalp EG stand-off cruise missile, which entered operational service on Tornado aircraft in March 2003, and the MBDA Brimstone anti-armour missile, which entered service with initial operational capability (IOC) on the RAF Tornado GR.Mk4 aircraft in March 2005. Italian aircraft are also armed with Storm Shadow.
The aircraft’s defensive aids sub-system (DASS) is accommodated within the aircraft structure and integrated with the avionics system.
DASS has been developed by the EuroDASS consortium – Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems (formerly BAE Systems Avionics) of the UK (prime contractor), Elettronica of Italy and Indra of Spain. The consortium was rejoined in October 2001 by EADS, after the German Federal Ministry of Defence contracted to re-enter the programme.
DASS provides an all-round prioritised assessment of threats with fully automatic response to single or multiple threats.
DASS includes an electronic countermeasures / support measures system (ECM/ESM), front and rear missile approach warners, supersonically capable towed decoy systems, laser warning receivers and SaabTech Electronics BOL chaff and flare dispensing system. The avionics system is based on a Nato standard databus with fibre optic highways.
Selex Galileo was awarded a contract in September 2010 to provide the Praetorian DASS for tranche 3A at a cost of £400m ($616m). The system incorporates ECM/ESM and missile approach warning (MAW) elements.
Eurofighter and Euroradar began to jointly develop an advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar in July 2010. It is aimed to meet the requirements of Eurofighter partner nations and export customers. The detection and tracking range of the radar has been improved.
In September 2020, a £317m ($420m) deal was signed between the Ministry of Defence and industry multi-functional AESA radar for UK Typhoon combat jets. BAE Systems and Leonardo will deliver the European Common Radar System Mark 2 radar for RAF’s Typhoon fleet.
The aircraft is equipped with a CAPTOR (ECR 90) multimode X-band pulse Doppler radar, developed by the Euroradar consortium. The multimode radar has three processing channels. The third channel is used for jammer classification, interference blanking and sidelobe nulling. Euroradar is led by Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems, with Indra of Spain, FIAR of Italy and EADS Defence Electronics of Germany.
In May 2007, an active electronically scanning array (AESA) version of CAPTOR, developed by Euroradar, was successfully test-flown on a Eurofighter. The radar is called CAESAR (CAPTOR AESA).
The PIRATE (passive infrared airborne track equipment) is mounted on the port side of the fuselage, forward of the windscreen. PIRATE has been developed by the EUROFIRST consortium which comprises Galileo Avionica (FIAR) of Italy (lead contractor), Thales Optronics of the UK (system technical authority) and Tecnobit of Spain.
PIRATE operates in both 3-5 and 8-11 micron spectral bands. When used with the radar in an air-to-air role, it functions as an infrared search and track system (IRST), providing passive target detection and tracking.
In an air-to-surface role, it performs multiple target acquisition and identification, as well as providing a navigation and landing aid. PIRATE provides a steerable image to the pilot’s helmet-mounted display.
In September 2005, Ultra Electronics was contracted to supply the Rafael Litening EF laser targeting pod for RAF Typhoons. German AF aircraft are also being equipped with the Litening pod.
The Eurofighter is equipped with two Eurojet EJ200 engines, each delivering thrust of 90kN in full reheat and 60kN in dry power mode. Single-stage turbines drive the three-stage fan and five-stage HP compressor. The EJ200 engine has been developed by Eurojet, in Munich.
The engine features: digital control; wide chord aerofoils and single crystal turbine blades; a convergent / divergent exhaust nozzle; and integrated health monitoring.