A Eurofighter flight test campaign dedicated to the configuration chosen by Kuwait, with E-SCAN radar and other important enhancements, is certainly demanding and complex. Mario Mutti, Head of Project Test Pilot Fighters and Standardization of Leonardo's Aircraft Division, tells us how it is proceeding.
Leonardo ISPA 6 (Instrumented Series Production Aircraft) is the most advanced Eurofighter Typhoon test aircraft with E-SCAN radar and it recently joined the other EF Typhoon test aircraft after the successful completion of an important lay-up in November last year.
"The testing campaign for the new radar is particularly demanding - Mario Mutti, Head of Project Test Pilot Fighters and Standardization of Leonardo's Aircraft Division tells - there is a need for very large and dedicated work areas, the support of other aircraft that act as "smart" targets, an extremely accurate post-flight data analysis that involves multiple sites (in Italy and partner Countries) and optimizes the "set-ups" of the next flight. A very complex flight test system.
“The Italian Air Force contributes in a fundamental way: the aircraft available in support of test flights are always on time and offer a very consistent capability both quantitative and in terms of skill. The complex scenarios planned in flight are possible only thanks to the experience of the military pilots and our two-seater prototype that allows for synergy, even in the cockpit, between test pilot and flight test engineer."
This challenging programme was completed as planned notwithstanding the difficulties created by the pandemic conditions under which the teams were operating; all flight test points were tested and all the required evidences obtained to provide final clearance on Kuwait’s Typhoon. The tactical advantage given by the radar’s Antenna Repositioner – allows a field of regard 50 per cent wider than conventional E-SCAN fixed plate systems - was clearly evident since the early stages of development.
"The COVID emergency did not stop us, on the contrary, it strengthened us! - Mutti continues - Very stringent procedures, always in line with national and corporate protocols allowed us to operate with a motivated team that has challenged adversity with great dedication and sense of responsibility. International sharing is actually more difficult and efforts are being made to restore it to maximum effectiveness."
With the above flights, ISPA6 has completed the overall P3Eb Flight Test campaign, which represent a significant step forward to allow the delivery of the Eurofighter to the Kuwait Air Force.
"The Eurofighter is always an excellent platform – Mutti comments with satisfaction - and demonstrates its extensive development capability already foreseen in the design phase. Ergonomics are even more optimized and the new radar is perfectly integrated into a general growth of capabilities that includes sensors, weapons and increasingly advanced and performing functions”.
The Eurofighter Typhoon ISPA 6
ISPA 6 is one of the three EF Typhoon test aircraft equipped with the Electronic Scan Radar made by the EuroRadar Consortium, led by Leonardo UK in Edinburgh, and it’s currently allocated to the EF/NETMA P3Eb (Eurofighter Consortium/NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency - Phase 3 Enhancements Package b) development programme to perform E-SCAN Entry Into Service flight tests and provide final clearance to the Kuwait customer.
After its first flight in the current configuration, at the end of last year, on the 3rd of March ISPA 6 started the so-called “E-SCAN XCR#1” flight test campaign and performed several sorties successfully concluded on the 27th of March. The first sorties were performed in cooperation with Leonardo’s IPA2 (Instrumented Production Aircraft) test aircraft and the last ones were conducted in cooperation with Eurofighter Typhoons of the Italian Air Force.
Recently ISPA 6 has flown to refine ECCM (Electronic Counter-Countermeasures) Radar capabilities, while in the next months will perform final E-SCAN software release certification flights; then will progress flying to test further E-SCAN software capabilities by the end of the year.