Eurofighter Typhoon 4th Generation Multirole Fighter Aircraft
The Eurofighter Typhoon has found a home in several military air services of the world including Britain, Spain and Italy.
Authored By Captain Jack; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Eurofighter Typhoon represents much of what is both good and bad in multi-national joint ventures. While itself appearing as a stellar end-product brought about by years of data collection, research and development, the speed bumps met along the way have been quite notable. The joint venture has allowed for a more cost-feasible fighter aircraft that showcases some of the very latest technological advances in the realm of military aircraft but, at the same time, the program has been plagued by delays from the outset. Regardless, the Typhoon is currently in operational service (albeit in limited numbers) but both its reach and its battlefield roles are expanding with each passing year. Several hundred systems are on order as of this writing and some examples have already seen operational deployment to various parts of the world (none in combat roles however). The export market has also just come alive with interest in the completed Eurofighter design. By modern jet fighter standards, the European consortium has delivered a capable war-winner matched only by few mounts in today's sky. Only time will tell if the effort has proved worthy.
The ECF and the ECA
The ECF (European Collaborative Fighter) program was formed between British Aerospace and West Germany firm Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm in 1979, later that year to be joined by French-based Dassault - thus forcing a program name change to "European Combat Aircraft", or the ECA. Each country worked on separate prototype designs but the joint venture soon dissipated by 1981 due to changing needs and differing design directions. The French were adamant on the use of the French-based SNEMA M88 powerplant (in keeping with delivering jobs to folks back home) while the British were more interested in a modified British-based RB199 turbofan. West Germany was off in the fields developing their own concept fighter amidst the mounting disagreements.
The Royal Air Force Operational Requirements Branch began looking past their aging crop of McDonnell F-4 Phantom IIs and SEPECAT Jaguar fighters with their respective air defense and ground attack roles. What it sought was a new, single platform capable of multi-role functionality. The resulting need dictated a fast, agile, offensive-minded fighter with short range and culminated in the Air Staff Requirement (Air) 414.
The ACA and the EAP
Following the dismembering of the ECA program, BAe, MBB and Aeritalia (of Italy) - mind you all being members of the earlier Panavia Tornado consortium - came together to birth the "Agile Combat Aircraft" (ACA) program in April of 1982. A preliminary design emerged having canard foreplanes, twin vertical tail fins and a cranked delta wing assembly. The intakes were fitted along the lower fuselage just under the nose with the powerplant was based on the British preferred RB.199 engine. By this point, the German and Italian governments had pulled their capital from the project until the British offered to finance up to 50% of the project. The British then contracted BAe to produce the required ACA demonstrator for evaluation and review under the "Experimental Aircraft Program" (EAP) name.
1983 saw yet another new consortium form between the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and, this time, the program was designated the "Future European Fighter Aircraft" (or FEFA) with the goal to produce an aircraft with BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missile tracking and engagement capabilities and STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) qualities. It was only France that desired a carrier-capable element and made this desire well-known while at the same time requiring that they be selected to lead the FEFA program. As a result, the British, Germans and Italians went in a different direction and set up their own EFA (European Fighter Aircraft) project, leaving the French to their own devices. BAe was given a contract to develop a technology demonstrator in May of 1983. A feasibility study was concluded in July of 1984.
The BAe EAP
On August 2nd, 1985, the new consortium agreed in principle to the creation of the "Eurofighter". France and Spain were more or less out of the loop at this point. While Spain weighed its options, France went ahead with an indigenous fighter program that would ultimately output the impressive Dassault Rafale multi-role fighter. Program costs for the EAP fighter were growing, however, and several challenges nearly killed the project altogether. This was not helped by the German and Italian unwillingness to provide additional capital to the growing monster.
The BAe end-product was unveiled in April of 1986 at Warton. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH and Eurojet Turbo GmbH were established to manage both the development of the fighter proper and the development of the engines to be. The EAP (Experimental Aircraft Program) was a technology demonstrator essentially developed as a private venture on the part of BAe. First flight occurred on August 8th, 1986 and eventually culminated with its retirement on May 1st, 1991. The aircraft flew on 259 test flights and totaled over 195 hours of flight time. The technology demonstrator served to provide valuable data for the upcoming Typhoon design and processed the validity of several key technological components including use of carbon fiber and aluminum lithium alloy construction in wing and fuselage design. A long five years of developmental testing followed but program data accumulated quickly and made much of the upcoming Typhoon fighter possible. The EAP helped to develop a "fly-by-wire" system that could be used in conjunction with an inherently unstable aerodynamic airframe. The type was powered by two Turbo-Union RB.199-104 series turbofan engines with afterburning (as found on the Panavia Tornado ADV variant) delivering 16,000lbs thrust each and also given a Tornado's tailfin to help save on expenses. Maximum speed was approximately Mach 2.27 (1,500 miles per hour) at altitude. The EAP airframe made use of a "cranked" delta wing as opposed to a true "straight" delta system later found on the Typhoon and was also given a straight-lipped underfuselage intake opening (this appearing as bowed on the final Typhoon). Only a single example was ever produced though two were scheduled to be built. While the British government offered to fund the EAP program to a point, the other participating governments lacked the needed capital to contribute and thusly the second prototype was never exercised.
In 1987, the EFA European Staff Requirement for Development delivered its final specification offering up more detail in the fighter it sought. The new aircraft was to be powered by a pair of afterburning turbo fans, promote a small radar cross section, offer unprecedented agility, operate from short airfields, provide beyond-visual-range tracking and engagement and support supersonic performance at altitude. The airframe would have to center in on a primary air-to-air mentality with air-to-surface functionality as second. The general specifications agreed upon included a 21,495lb empty weight and 20,233lb thrust output (with afterburner) for each engine. The multi-billion dollar contract for construction and testing of such an aircraft was signed on November 23rd, 1988, and would eventually incorporate a total of eight prototypes - 3 to the UK, 2 to Germany, 2 to Italy and 1 to Spain. Funding the production forms would be entirely based on the original share breakdown as 33% BAe Systems, 33% MDD (EADS Deutschland), 21% Alenia and 13% CASA (EADS CASA). In short, the more aircraft a nation was ordering, the more of a production load its citizens would be granted. The contract covered main engine and weapons system development as well. In early 1990, the selection of the Ferranti Defense Systems ECR-90 radar system was finalized to be housed in the nose cone of each production Typhoon.
German Reunification and Finding a Way Out
Reunification of Germany in the early 90s placed the once-split German nation on wavering financial standing. 1992 saw the entire Eurofighter program reappraised in light of the events culminating with the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The German Defense Minister looked to remove Germany's involvement in the financial burden that was the Eurofighter project altogether and seek cheaper alternatives for their modern fighter needs. At the time, the only viable options appeared as the Mikoyan MiG-29 "Fulcrum" and the Sukhoi Su-27 "Flanker" and these were wholly outclassed when compared to the highly-advanced Typhoon. Additionally, Germany's commitments to the ongoing program were so deep that removal of the nation from the project was near-impossible. As such, Germany, even after reunification and financial stresses, stayed on as a key player in Eurofighter development. About this time, the program took on the name of "Eurofighter 2000".
The EFA prototypes followed the "DA" designation with a numeric suffix. The DA.1 went airborne for the first time on March 27th, 1994 and was followed by the RB.199-powered DA.2 achieving its glory on April 6th of that same year. Flight time was 45 and 50 minutes respectively. DA.1 was given the task of testing out the Typhoon's high dynamic pressure and stressing the structure. DA.2 was the first British-build Eurofighter prototype and also the first to be completed of any nation, but the second to actually become airborne. DA.2 was eventually refitted with EJ200 powerplants and sent up again with its new engines in August of 1988. She was also called to complete the first air-to-air refueling trials. DA.4 was a two-seat airframe and a test-bed for the ECR.90 radar system. DA.5 tested in-flight avionics and the weapons system. Both DA.4 and DA.5 flew after DA.6 became airborne. DA.6 was the second two-seat prototype but the first such airframe to fly but was lost on November 21st, 2002, due to a dual engine flameout - both pilots ejected safely. First flight was on August 31st, 1996. DA.7 became the final developmental prototype for funding was cut on any subsequent projections so the projected eighth prototype was never to be. DA.7 first flew in 1997 and tested navigation, weapons integration, performance and communications. Five "Instrument Production Aircraft" (IPA) followed the prototypes with IPA.1 achieving first flight on April 15th, 2002.
The first production contract was signed off on January 30th, 1998, and included all of the primary handlers - Eurofighter, Eurojet and NETMA. In September of 1998, the "Typhoon" name was officially adopted (replacing the "EF2000" designation) for the new fighter in a naming ceremony with Germany initially rejecting the name. Delivery of production Typhoons was scheduled to begin sometime in 2001. These was consistently defeated due to project delays. The fighter was officially introduced on August 3rd, 2003. Cold Environment Trials (CET) were conducted in 2004. The CAESAR demonstrator system was showcased in a first flight in May 2007. A near-production form of the Typhoon went airborne on January 16th, 2008. The Royal Air Force received their first pair of Typhoons on October 21st, 2008, these arriving at RAF Coningsby.
Germany Stirs the Waters Yet Again
The United Kingdom originally committed to the purchase of 250 aircraft while Germany signed on for 250 systems themselves. Italy would buy 165 and Spain would take on 100. Final assembly would occur in the respective operator country. Assembly plants have been set up with BAe for British-purchased Typhoons while other Typhoons will be "born" at lines in Munich, Turin and Madrid.
The shared workload of Typhoon production always centered directly on the procurement numbers committed by each participating country. The more Typhoon aircraft a country ordered, the more of the production share they were to receive. This was, at least in the beginning, the formal agreement by all partners. However, once each nation started to re-evaluate their fighter needs, there were cuts being made across the board. UK orders dropped from 250 to 232 examples while German was to take delivery of just 140 units from its original 250. Italy cut its commitment from 165 down to 121 systems while Spain dropped from 100 to 87 aircraft. While this was all well and good on the outside, Germany - themselves having cut 110 total aircraft from their original commitment - refused to take a reduced production workload. It was not until some political wrangling on the part of the British did the Germans accept the purchase of 40 more Typhoons (these of the multi-role variety) in reaching an acceptable compromise.
With production orders adjusted, the workload share was now split as 43% (EADS MAS - Germany and Spain), 37.5% (BAe - UK) and 19.5% (Alenia - Italy). EADS Deutschland was charged with component production of the main center fuselage while EADS CASA would handle the right wing and leading edge slat production. BAe Systems would produce the canard foreplanes, forward fuselage, vertical tail fin, fuselage spine, the rear fuselage, canopy and inboard flaperons for the wings. Alenia Aeronautica was charged with production of the outboard flaperons, rear fuselage components and the left wing. Complete system procurement was/is occurring under what are called "tranches", essentially stepped contractual agreements between the involved parties. To date, there are three tranches associated with Typhoon procurement known simply as "Tranche 1", "Tranche 2" and "Tranche 3A". These contracts will result in the production and delivery of some 559 total Typhoo aircraft when all is completed.
While there exists both a single-seat (Typhoon F1) and two-seat (Typhoon T1) version of the basic Typhoon airframe, the single-seat version is the primary air defense/multi-role platform. The two-seat variant served primarily as a trainer for incoming Typhoon pilots. Early delivery Typhoons were strictly air-to-air capable and only partially so. Full air-to-air capability was reached by the final (fourth) production Block of aircraft delivered in Tranche 1. Air-to-ground capability came in Tranche 2 deliveries. Tranche 3 aircraft will feature upgradable functionality to help expand lethality and battlefield usefulness but originally appear with Tranche 2 standard features.
Introduction, Operators and Known Production
As of this writing, the aircraft is in operational service with the British Royal Air Force, the German Luftwaffe, the Italian Aeronautica Militare, the Spanish Air Force and the Austrian Air Force. Austrian represents the first foreign operator of the Typhoon with Saudi Arabia soon to follow (a contract was signed for procurement of up to 72 Typhoon aircraft in 2007). In early January of 2009, there were approximately 471 Typhoons on order for all participants combined.
Germany and Spain received their initial Typhoons in 2003. Italy received her first in December of 2005. Multi-role Typhoons were delivered to the British in 2007 and declared fully combat-ready (air-to-air and air-to-ground) on July 1st, 2008. Typhoons in service have already seen some limited action - one such event saw an RAF pair intercept an encroaching Russian Tupolev Tu-95 "Bear" bomber in 2007 while others were put on station in the Falklands near Argentina in 2009.
Austria Jumps On Board
Austria agreed on July 2nd, 2002, to become a procurement partner in the Typhoon program. The formal agreement occurred on July 1st, 2003, with the expected delivery of 18 examples as well as applicable pilot and crew training and simulation time. However, this number was scaled back to 15 Typhoons on June 26th, 2007. The first Typhoon was delivered on July 12th, 2007 and promptly entered operational service with the Austrian Air Force soon after.
Saudi Arabia Follows...With a Little Blackmail
Saudi Arabia, like Austria before it, was in the market for a next generation frontline defense fighter. After coming up empty with proposals through Singapore and South Korea, the Saudi's settled on the Eurofighter Typhoon. The agreement was announced on August 18th, 2006. However, the British "Serious Fraud Office" was investigating several defense deals conducted by the Saudis in the 1980s. These involved BAe Systems bribery of Saudi officials during the "Al Yamamah" arms deals between the two countries - arms delivered to the Saudis in payment of oil to the British. When the Saudi's threatened to pull out of their purchase of 72 Typhoons (and purchase French Dassault Rafales instead), justice flew out the window, replaced by a backtracking British government that promptly called off the investigation on December 14th, 2006. Of the 72 aircraft on order, 48 of these will be completed in Saudi Arabia. There is a potential for the Kingdom to order an additional 24 jets in the future. The first Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) Typhoon was delivered to Saudi soil on June 23rd, 2009.
Several nations have been mentioned in the same breath as the Typhoon as becoming potential customers. India is a strong potential candidate and considers the Typhoon one of their top selections in their MRCA Competition alongside the Dassault Rafale, Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Mikoyan MiG-35 among others. Similarly, Japan may become a future operator of the Typhoon. Financial concerns in Greece have quieted talk about Typhoon acquisitions. Brazil was once mentioned as being interested in the Typhoon.
Eurofighter Typhoon Walk-Around
The cockpit (available in single- or twin-seat configurations) is situated forward in the fuselage design, aft of the radar-housing nose cone assembly. The pilot(s) sit (s) under a two-piece canopy offering up excellent views from within the cockpit. The canopy consists of the forward fixed windscreen and the main component which, itself, is hinged at the rear. The contoured fuselage sports small side-mounted strakes near the cockpit and all-moving canard foreplanes. The strakes serve to move stagnant air generated by the canard foreplanes. As the Typhoon is an inherently unstable platform (her center of gravity is located aft of center itself), the canards play a crucial role in various aerodynamic aspects of the aircrafts flight envelope including pitch control. Canard foreplanes allow for improved turning and can improved total drag/lift during landing and take-off while providing greater agility at speed. Their forward position in the design also allows them to be of reduced drag as opposed to rear-mounted tail planes found in traditional fighter designs.
The main wing assemblies are of a delta wing design featuring extensive sweep along the leading edge and little to no sweep along the straight trailing edge. Construction includes carbon-fiber composite rib and spars with metal only used along the weapon hardpoints. Up to 70% of the Typhoon's construction revolves around use of carbon-fiber composites, titanium and aluminum-lithium. Control surfaces are fitted to both the leading and trailing edges. Control is aided by trailing edge flaperons which accomplish the combined tasks of conventional flaps, elevators and ailerons and are further aided by the canard foreplanes. An airbrake is fitted to the ventral side while leading-edge flaps help in landing. The delta wing design approach also allows for multiple external underwing and underfuselage hardpoints and number thirteen in the Typhoon. Jammer pods are ingeniously contained at the clipped wingtips so no ordnance is used at those areas. The Typhoon makes use of basic stealth design features including implementation of a small radar cross section. Some areas of the aircraft are coated over in special materials to absorb incoming radar waves. The radar system itself diffuses its own signals to an extent.
Intakes are mounted directly beneath the fuselage and are split at their center, allowing each duct to aspirate their respective engine and further break up incoming radar signals from reaching the engine. Each intake opening is rectangular in shape and slightly angled down towards the fuselage centerline. The intake sports a hinged lower "lip" and the center splitter plate ensures proper, uninterrupted airflow to each engine. Its low fuselage placement is also deemed optimal for this particular aircraft design layout. The empennage is dominated by a single, large-area vertical tail fin (similar to the one as found on the Panavia Tornado but of a smaller overall size) mounted between the two engine compartments. The engines exhaust through conventional nozzle rings at the rear and base of the vertical tail fin though there has always been talk of replacing these with vectoring nozzles in the future. There is a small noticeable intake at the trailing edge base of the fin. As a delta wing design, the Typhoon makes no use of traditional horizontal tail planes and instead uses the canard foreplanes and wing-mounted surfaces for basic flight functions (aided by computers).
Her undercarriage is conventional, sporting two single-wheeled main landing gear legs and a single-wheeled nose landing gear leg. The main legs retract inwards towards centerline under each wingroot while the nose leg retracts backwards under the split intake system. Each leg is fitted with carbon-carbon brakes that are cooled by a fan system and furthermore controlled by an automated computer function. The undercarriage as a whole is designed to withstand a good deal of stress, allowing them to stay exposed at constant Angle-of-Attack (AOA) during landings. This affords the Typhoon a relatively short landing run of just 2,300 feet.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is powered by pair of Eurojet EJ200 series afterburning turbofan engines. The powerplant maintains an origin in the 1980s Rolls-Royce XG-40 used to demonstrate some of the available technology. In comparison to the earlier optimized RB.199 series, the EJ200 sports 50% less moving parts but at the same time delivers 50% more thrust output. Eurojet will produce a total of 1,400 engines for the Eurofighter project.
Performance from this dual engine setup includes a top speed between Mach 1.2 and Mach 2 (1,550 miles per hour) at altitude (sources vary). The engines also offer supercruise capability - that is, supersonic flight without the need for afterburner. It should be noted that the Typhoon can only achieve this supercruise function with a "clean" load - no externally-fitted droptanks or ordnance to interfere with airflow. Afterburner is available on the EJ200 and raises the dry thrust weight of 13,500lbs each engine to approximately 20,250lbs of thrust each engine. The combined 40,000lbs of thrust is comparable to that of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat yet the Typhoon weighs only half that of its retired American counterpart. Range is an impressive 1,840 miles and ferry range reaches out to 2,300 miles. The Typhoons service ceiling is listed at 65,000 feet with a rate-of-climb equal to 62,000 feet per minute.
The base Eurofighter Typhoon cockpit is dominated by three multi-function displays, one to either side of the center console and one fitted low on the console itself. These are fully programmable and are bordered by various function buttons doing away with the many gauges and system monitors that were common to Cold War-era aircraft. In fact, there is nary a gauge to be found in the ultra-high tech Typhoon - essentially, she sports what is known as an "all-glass" cockpit. The top of the instrument panel is capped by a wide-angled HUDs (Heads-Up Display) system that relays pertinent mission and systems information without the pilot needing to take his eyes off of the action ahead. Similarly, his helmet mounted display supplies information as well. Overall, the cockpit feel and look is very clean and quite ergonomic. Ruder controls are foot pedals found under the instrument panel. The pilot controls the aircraft through a center flight stick containing applicable weapon controls at his finger tips. Throttle controls are seated along the left side instrument panel. The Typhoon cockpit features complete voice support (DVI - Digital Voice Input) and Martin-Baker Mk.16A ejection seats. The ejection seats feature an 18-degree recline and was developed from the preceding Martin-Baker Mk.15 series -though the new design weights in at a manageable 140 pounds. In all, the aircraft makes every attempt to reduce pilot workload and fatigue. Such attention to detail has even resulted in the development of a specialized "G" suit to counter the inherent G-forces of modern jet-powered fighters - keeping the pilot "in the fight" for longer stretches of time.
The Typhoon's basic avionics package is of all-digital control and made up by the following four systems: 1) Attack and Identification; 2) Monitoring, Recording, Test, Defense and Flight Control; 3) Navigation and Weapons Control; 4) Communications. The avionics package is a system produced in their four independent parts by (respectively) DASA, BAe, Alenia and CASA. Navigation is both inertial-and GPS-based and features an integrated ILS (Instrument Landing System).
The Typhoon makes use of the ECR.90 Third Generation series radar system (now known as the "Euroradar CAPTOR") and is housed under the nose cone. At its core, the radar is multi-mode pulse Doppler radar based on the BAe Systems "Blue Vixen" radar developed for the British Sea Harrier decades prior. The system allows for an effective identification and attack system in both air-to-air and air-to-surface modes complete with all-aspect "look-up/look-down" capability. The integrated targeting computer assists the pilot in determining and prioritizing the optimal threat and identifies all threats in real time with constant analyzing and allocating of available targets. She is reportedly very resistant through jamming by way of enemy Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) and sports an extensive scanning range. The system can track moving ground targets as well and offers a high resolution ground mapping function. Terrain avoidance and ranging are built into the programming. An integrated Infra-Red Search and Tracking (IRST) installation provides additional insurance to the ECR.90 radar system. The ECR.90 also features innate capabilities that dwindle its outgoing emissions to further diffuse enemy tracking radars themselves and make the Typhoon more "stealthy" in the skies.
Marconi Defense Systems and Elettronica are responsible for the Typhoon's defensive suite known as "Praetorian" (formerly EuroDASS). This is comprised of both Laser Warning Receiver (LWR) and Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) systems, conventional chaff and flare dispensers, Missile Approach Warning (MAW) and a towed decoys. Additionally, the aircraft actively and automatically alerts the pilot to incoming tracking waves and enemy missile launches. Built-in ESM and ECM pods are stored at the wingtips and contain the towed decoys. Ground avoidance is handled by the built-in Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS).
Standard armament of the Typhoon is a single internal 27mm Mauser cannon fitted to the fuselage. The Mauser system is afforded 150 rounds. Ordnance is contained on no fewer than thirteen external hardpoints. Six of these are held underwing (three to each wing system) with another hardpoint location at each forward wing root. There are four recessed underfuselage side hardpoints and a centerline station. The underfuselage locations allow for the fitting of longer missile ordnance (such as the AMRAAM) and are set in an inline fashion - one munition mounted ahead of the other. Three hardpoint locations are "plumbed" for the delivery of fuel through external droptanks. A centerline drop tank and two underwing hardpoints can be fitted with droptanks at the cost of supersonic speed due to the added drag. To maintain supersonic speeds, two smaller underwing tanks can be used in place of the three larger base drop tanks.
Primary armament of the Typhoon (for the foreseeable future) is the American-made medium-range AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile. Short-range work will be enabled through use of the American AIM-9 Sidewinder, BAe ASRAAM and BAe/Saab S225X missiles while other operators may utilize the IRIS-T missile or other favored weapon. The MBDA "Meteor" should figure into the mix at a future date as well. Though still under development, this long-range, radar-guided missile offers up the indigenous, modern, Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) capability initially sought for during development of the Typhoon system. AMRAAMs will be equipped on production Typhoons for the interim as the Meteor is not expected to become available until 2012 or 2013.
For air-to-ground work, the Typhoon is cleared to carry the Paveway II/III laser-guided bomb along with a TIALD laser designator. Additional air-to-surface ordnance options will be the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, the AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missile, the ALARM, the Taurus KEPD 350, the Penguin anti-ship missile and the AGM "Armiger" anti-radiation missile. BAe/MATRA teamed up to produce the "Storm Shadow" and the Hellfire-inspired "Brimstone" anti-armor missile also figures into the air-to-surface ordnance mix. Conventional drop ordnance as cleared per operator nation is another part of the Typhoon's arsenal display. There is also reportedly JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) support.
The Eurofighter Name
Like several other European aircraft developments of recent past, the Eurofighter Typhoon is of a joint development effort comprised of three corporations - Alenia Aeronautica of Italy, BAe Systems of the United Kingdom and EADS of the Netherlands (the latter itself a merger of DASA of Germany, Aerospatiale-Matra of France and CASA of Spain). All three primary companies are working under the joint holding company of the aforementioned Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH formed in 1986 (hence the Eurofighter name in the designation). This is similar to the European arrangement originally made for the design, development and production of the Panavia Tornado "swing-wing" fighter-bomber of the 1980s. In fact, the Eurofighter project is handled by NETMA, the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency - the same firm currently managing existing Tornados. The aforementioned Eurojet Turbo GmbH - a consortium of Rolls-Royce, MTU Aero Engines, FiatAvio (Avio) and ITP - manages the functions of the EJ200 engines powering the Typhoon.
The Eurofighter Typhoon carries into the modern age of flight the name of the World War 2-era Hawker Typhoon, the RAFs first dedicated ground-attack fighter aircraft.
In August of 2013, it was announced that an effort was underway to court the Gulf nations of Bahrain and United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the sale of the Typhoon. This may persuade Gulf leaders to agree to a greater, semi-permanent British military presence in the Middle East in the long run - coinciding with the British military draw down in both the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns.
The Ministry of Defense has approved several programs to bring about better tactical support for the Typhoon line including delivery of precision-guided munitions and cruise missiles (Storm Shadow). New weapons support is expected to be finished by the end of 2018. As of now, the RAF has 129 Typhoons of its expected 160-strong fleet. The service expects to field the multi-role fighter (alongside the F-35) beyond 2030.
Kuwait and Oman on on order for 12 and 28 Eurofighter Typhoons respectively (2015), joining the growing stable of users (see operators for full list). Kuwait is the first export customer set to receive Typhoons featuring E-Scan radar.
April 2016 - It was announced that the Kuwaiti government had officially signed its contract with Italy to procure 28 Eurofighter Typhoons (Tranche 3).
July 2016 - "Project Centurion" is intended to add the capabilities of the outgoing PANAVIA Tornado GR.4 fleet to the Eurofighter Typhoon series giving the newer fighter support for the MBDA "Brimstone" and "Storm Shadow" missile lines. The RAF intends on fielding the Typhoon into 2040. An E-scanner capability is planned for introduction in early 2020.
December 2016 - Production of Typhoons currently on order is expected to end in or around 2018 if no new orders are added.
April 2017 - It was announced that production of Eurofighter Typhoons will continue into 2023 based on secured customer orders.
July 2017 - The Austrian government plans to phase out its fleet of fifteen Eurofighter Typhoons by 2020 due to cost and changing national airspace requirements.