Close up of a German Air Force EF2000 seen from the Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)

Eurofighter Typhoon: spreading the aim

In what can only be described as ‘strategically wise’, the Eurofighter consortium is adding new air-to-ground capabilities to its Typhoon. Details of the enhancements were announced on Sunday 22 February during the IDEX defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi. On the same day, a dedicated website about Eurofighter Typhoon in Arabic went live. So market wise, it’s clear where Eurofighter now aims at.

The modification are known as Phase 3 Capability Enhancement (P3E) and give the Typhoon the capability to deploy multiple guided air-to-surface weapons at moving targets with low-collateral damage. During a press conference in Abu Dhabi, Eurofighter Typhoon customers described P3E as an “essential capability”.

A Spanish Typhoon rolls during an airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Spanish Typhoon rolls during an airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The P3E contract is worth 200 million EUR and comes at a time when precise air to ground capabilities are more needed than ever, especially during current air strikes against Islamic State (ISIS) forces. So far, Typhoon has not yet seen any use at all over Iraq and Syria, with 4th generation F-15, F-16, F-18 and Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado fighter aircraft doing most of the work, plus more notably, the 5th generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.  French Dassault Rafales (4.5th generation) have also been used, and with a Rafale order from Qatar imminent, Eurofighter is wise to enhance the Typhoon’s air to ground capabilities.

RAF Typhoons were used in the 2011 campaign in Libya, striking ground targets in cooperation with Tornadoes. The British Typhoons clocked up 3,000 flying hours in that campaign.

An Alenia Aermacchi-made Typhoon, seen at Turin Caselle airfield. (Image © Alenia Aermacchi)

“This capability upgrade gives the Typhoon unrivaled full multi-role and swing-role capability”, said Alberto Gutierrez, CEO of Eurofighter. The consortium is also not losing focus on introducing the Brimstone 2 missile required by the RAF. Furthermore, P3E enhances the capabilities of the Storm Shadow long-range strike missile, the Meteor, Paveway IV and ASRAAM weapons. Storm Shadow tests are ongoing in Italy.

The first P3E outfitted Typhoon is scheduled for delivery in 2017. All four core nations (UK-Germany, Italy and Spain) will work together on testing the new capability. When ready, the full swing-role, multi-role weapons arsenal on Typhoon could include a mix of six Brimstone 2 missiles; up to six Paveway IV bombs, two long-range Storm Shadow missiles, four Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missiles and either two IRIS-T or two ASRAAM heat-seeking missiles.

© 2015 editor Elmer van Hest

A RAF 3 (F) Squadron Typhoon over Dubai participating at the Dubai (UAE) airshow. (Image © Eurofighter Cons.)
A RAF 3 (F) Squadron Typhoon over Dubai. (Image © Eurofighter Cons.)