Unique delta wing design provides high maneuverability and powerful weapon system, Eurofighter Typhoon is considered the leading fighter in Europe.
Eurofighter Typhoon is still the backbone of German, Italian, UK and Spanish air forces.
In the 1970s, several Western European countries perceived a need for a new fighter aircraft. Older designs, often acquired from the United States, were reaching the end of the mature stages of their development, and desperately needed replacement. These included the F-4 Phantom and the F-104 Starfighter.
The United States had developed the F-15 and F-16 in the 1970s, and the Soviets were threatening to leave the Europeans behind with the combination of the MiG-29 and Su-27.
The Typhoon’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.
Typhoon’s first took flight on August 6, 1986; the first prototype of the finalised Eurofighter made its first flight on March 27, 1994. The aircraft’s name, Typhoon, was adopted in September 1998; the first production contracts were also signed that year.
The Eurofighter project survived the collapse of defense spending at the end of the Cold War. Operational Typhoons started entering service in 2003. United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy have purchased the most Eurofighters.
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.
Eurofighter Typhoon design
The Eurofighter Typhoon features a unique canard delta wing configuration and closely resembles the French Dassault Rafale. The foreplane configuration is intentionally aerodynamically unstable which provides a high level of agility, low drag and enhanced lift.
The pilot controls the aircraft through a computerised digital fly-by-wire system which provides artificial stabilisation and gust elevation to give good control characteristics throughout the flight envelope. Engines are fed by a chin double intake ramp situated below a splitter plate.
The aircraft is constructed of carbon-fibre composites, glass-reinforced plastic, aluminium lithium, titanium and aluminium casting. Although not designated a stealth fighter, measures were taken to reduce the Typhoon’s radar cross section, especially from the frontal aspect. Some external weapons are mounted semi-recessed into the aircraft, partially shielding these missiles from incoming radar waves.
Throughout the design process of the Eurofighter Typhoon, the needs of the single seat pilot have been paramount. This has meant high levels of attention have been paid to the control and information interfaces throughout the unique glass cockpit, from the head-up, head-down and head-out systems to all-round vision. High workload situations were analysed to establish information priorities and automate tasks.
Other features such as Direct Voice Input and Hands On Throttle And Stick control functions have been implemented on the Eurofighter Typhoon to drastically reduce the pilot’s workload. Voice & Throttle And Stick enables single pilot operations even in the most demanding Air-to-Air, Air-to-Surface and swing-role missions.
The Eurofighter Typhoon’s wide angle head up display provides the pilot with stable, accurate, high integrity, low latency eyes-out guidance in a compact package. The HUD offers high performance that is compatible with night vision and laser protection goggles.
Eurofighter Typhoon Performance
Eurofighter Typhoon is equipped with 2 EUROJET EJ200 engines to increase safety in peacetime and redundancy in war. The high reliability and subsequent availability ensure low operational costs and high safety. Each engine capable of providing up to 60 kN (13,000lbf) of dry thrust and over 90 kN (20,000lbf) with afterburners. The EJ200 engine has been developed by Eurojet, in Munich.
The Typhoon has a top speed of Mach 2, a high service ceiling, an excellent thrust-to-weight ratio, and “supercruise” capabilities. In exercises, the Typhoon has quickly established a reputation as one of the world’s most formidable dogfighters, with high maneuverability and energy preservation characteristics. Advanced helmet and g-suit equipment allows Typhoon pilots to take advantage of these qualities to excellent effect.
Eurofighter Typhoon Armament
Typhoon’s weapon system includes an internally mounted Mauser BK27mm gun, this is a revolver gun system with a linkless-closed ammunition feed system. The Eurofighter Typhoon has 13 hard points for weapon carriage, four under each wing and five under the fuselage. An armament control system manages weapons selection and firing and monitors weapon status.
The Typhoon also has excellent Beyond-Visual Range combat capabilities, carrying the AIM-120 missile and having a lower radar cross-section than any fourth-generation fighter.
Also, depending on the role, the fighter can carry a mix of air-to-air missiles such as AIM-132 ASRAAM, AIM-9 Sidewinder; Air-to-surface missiles like AGM-65 Maverick, AGM-88 HARM. Typhoon is integrated Raytheon Paveway IV 500lb and Enhanced Paveway EGBU-16 1,000lb guided bombs and a new laser designator pod.
Within Europe, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, and the United Kingdom have all purchased the Typhoon. Of these, only Austria is outside the initial design consortium. The Typhoon has struggled a bit to find customers outside of Europe. Various bids to sell the aircraft to Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American customers have failed, as the aircraft has run up against tightening defense budgets and tough competition from the F-35, the Gripen, the Rafale, and an apparently endless series of Su-27 variants.
Still, for an aircraft effectively designed by a multinational committee, the Eurofighter has performed well in service, and has won an excellent reputation among aviation experts. It will continue to serve alongside both fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, providing a bridge and offering capabilities that complement either type.
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