WARTON, United Kingdom. --– BAE Systems has confirmed delivery of the first two Typhoon combat aircraft with multi-role capability to the Royal Air Force. The development means in addition to being able to take on and defeat other fighters in air-to-air combat, RAF Typhoons will soon be able to attack ground targets with GPS and laser-guided bombs – all in one mission.
Wing Commander Gavin Parker, Officer Commanding XI Squadron, took delivery of the first production programme version of the aircraft from BAE Systems on Monday, 6 August.
Before flying the aircraft down from BAE Systems in Warton, Lancashire to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, he said: “I think this is, in many respects, one of the most important milestones in the Eurofighter Typhoon programme to date. Typhoon is already an exceptional air-to-air fighter and is demonstrating excellent potential in the air-to-surface role. A combination of its range, payload and performance, coupled with the planned integration of a variety of air-to-surface weapons, will make it a fantastic close air support machine.”
Having accepted the new aircraft, XI Squadron will spend several months training to utilise the full capabilities of the combined functionality. In parallel with this, precision air-to-surface capability will be developed and implemented ahead of an operational capability that is planned for July 2008. From this date forwards it is planned that Typhoon will be ready to deploy on multi-role operations as and when required.
This latest development follows the RAF’s announcement that it is now using the fighter as an integral part of the UK's airspace defence operations.
Both aircraft now delivered by BAE Systems to the RAF have air-to-air and initial air-to-ground capability, one coming from what is known as the Retrofit 2 upgrade programme, and the other from the production programme. They are the first RAF aircraft to have been upgraded to what is known as Block 5 standard, enhancing the aircraft’s handling and its systems - and adding new defensive and offensive capabilities.
Retrofit 2 will bring 115 aircraft from across Europe up to Block 5 standard. A further 25 Block 5 aircraft will be produced as part of the production programme. BAE Systems’ employees on the Typhoon programme will be working side by side with RAF personnel at bases in the UK and overseas supporting men and women on active operations.
Chris Boardman, managing director Typhoon at BAE Systems said: “We have worked in close partnership with the Ministry of Defence to introduce these enhancements and provide the RAF with a state-of-the-art combat aircraft.
He added: “By applying the principles of the Defence Industrial Strategy, we have also jointly developed a programme of combined maintenance and upgrade which will help minimise the cost of this work to the taxpayer, whilst maximising the RAF’s effectiveness.”
The maiden flight of the first Block 5 production aircraft has already demonstrated the benefits of continued improvements on the Typhoon development programme. Typhoon final assembly operations manager Martin Topping said: “The aircraft performed exceptionally well, achieving a high level of performance. This production flight acceptance testing flight was one of the best ever, achieving 90 per cent of the planned schedule.”
The Block 5 standard gives Typhoon full air-to-air and initial air-to-ground capability with full carefree handling. The aircraft is cleared for the 9g envelope as intended, with additional features such as sensor fusion; full direct voice input; enhanced global positioning system; defensive aids sub-system countermeasures including automatic chaff and flare dispensers; radar air-to-surface modes including ground mapping; and initial Forward Looking Infra-Red.
The Block 5 Typhoon will be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, plus laser-guided bombs. External fuel tanks are certified for supersonic flight, while air-to-air refuelling is cleared for all customer-specified tanker types.
BAE Systems is the premier global defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology systems and customer support services. With 96,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems sales exceeded £15 billion (US$27 billion) in 2006 (On a pro forma basis, assuming BAE Systems had owned Armor for the whole of 2006.)
Most Capable RAF Typhoons Yet Go ‘Multi-Role’