Under the programme known as Retrofit 2, 43 Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft have been upgraded to the Tranche 1 Block 5 standard.
This includes installation of the forward looking infra-red (FLIR) system, enhancement of air-to-air capability, the introduction of an air-to-surface capability and the ability to use the laser designator pod for precision weapon delivery.
Martin Taylor, BAE Systems’ Combat Air Support Director said: “This upgrade programme gives the Royal Air Force Typhoon fleet an improved baseline capability, making it better than it has ever been before. This improved capability will also allow the Royal Air Force greater scope for how they manage the Typhoon fleet.”
Air Commodore Keith Bethell, Head of the Fast Air Support Team, Defence Equipment and Support said: “The Retrofit 2 programme was one of the first steps on our ongoing journey to deliver Typhoon availability and capability through a partnered approach with BAE Systems. This early step helped lead us onto the highly successful Typhoon Availability Service into which Retrofit 2 was then subsumed. The conclusion of the Retrofit 2 programme is a significant milestone on the Typhoon journey and one we will build from as we continue to grow the Typhoon Force.”
Over the last six years, a mixture of twin and single seat aircraft have been processed through the programme which has been managed by a team of around 160 employees working in close co-operation with the Royal Air Force/Ministry of Defence fleet management team.
Under the programme, the last aircraft to be handed back to the Royal Air Force is British single seat Typhoon number BS23 (tail number ZJ932). The aircraft originally entered service with 3 Squadron on 10th November 2006, delivering Quick Reaction Alert duties from RAF Coningsby. The aircraft will return to service with XI Squadron to provide a major contribution to the deployable Typhoon Force.
In the early days of the contract it was recognised that synergies could be gained by contracting BAE Systems to also perform primary servicing on the aircraft at the same time as the upgrade programme was being undertaken. This combination of work minimised downtime of the aircraft from the Typhoon fleet and offered significant savings to the customer.
Previously under standalone national contracts, the activity was subsequently subsumed into the wider Typhoon Availability Service (TAS) contract.
All future upgrade and maintenance programmes will be carried out at the RAF Coningsby Typhoon Maintenance Facility.