BAE Systems’ Chief Test Pilot Steve Formoso describes how ongoing work on the integration of the weapons as part of Phase 2 Enhancements and beyond further enhances the Eurofighter Typhoon’s potent multi-role and swing-role capabilities.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter. The Typhoon was designed and is manufactured by a consortium of Alenia Aermacchi, Airbus Group and BAE Systems that conducts the majority of the project through a joint holding company, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH formed in 1986. NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency manages the project and is the prime customer.
The aircraft’s development effectively began in 1983 with the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme, a multinational collaboration among the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Disagreements over design authority and operational requirements led France to leave the consortium to develop the Dassault Rafale independently. A technology demonstration aircraft, the British Aerospace EAP, first took flight on 6 August 1986; the first prototype of the finalised Eurofighter made its first flight on 27 March 1994. The aircraft’s name, Typhoon, was adopted in September 1998; the first production contracts were also signed that year.
Political issues in the partner nations significantly protracted the Typhoon’s development; the sudden end of the Cold War reduced European demand for fighter aircraft, and a debate over the Eurofighter’s cost and work share. The Typhoon entered operational service in 2003. The type has entered service with the Austrian Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the German Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the Spanish Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Force. The Royal Air Force of Oman and the Kuwait Air Force are export customers, bringing the procurement total to 599 aircraft as of 2016.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft, designed to be a supremely effective dogfighter in combat. Later production aircraft have been increasingly better equipped to undertake air-to-surface strike missions and to be compatible with an increasing number of different armaments and equipment including Storm Shadow and the RAF’s Brimstone. The Typhoon saw its combat debut during the 2011 military intervention in Libya with the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force, performing aerial reconnaissance and ground strike missions. The type has also taken primary responsibility for air-defence duties for the majority of customer nations.