Tag Archives: EF2000

Analysis: “RAF to cope with only 60 combat jets”

The Royal Air Force is quietly planning to keep its aging Tornado fighter jets even longer than already envisaged. By 2019 the RAF is set to take its last of 87 operational Panavia variable sweep-wing aircraft out of service, as well as the first version (read: less-capable) of 53 Eurofighter Typhoons. Counting in all other factors the United Kingdom will end up very short-handed with at times only 60 combat jets ready.

Same ocassion, different Tornado. This one is carrying a recce pod. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
RELATED POST: Luftwaffe future plans – beware of our Tornados
With an increasing military threat from Russia as well as other international commitments like fighting the so-called Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria (Operation Inherent Resolve), the United Kingdom is in need for a capable combat force more than a decade ago.

Yet the country’s military leadership – as well as military analists – worry how the RAF is able to defend the country and perform its international duties with in theory roughly more than 112 fighter jets by 2020. Since it takes a decade to build up a military force, various RAF planners are trying to find a way to cope with the future, because even that number of 112 does not reflect the coming real-life situation.

In less than five years from now the United Kingdom will have the least number of fighter jets to fly into combat ever, while the need of them has not been as high as since the 1982 Falklands War. With its usual detachment of four Typhoons at RAF Mount Pleasant there and likely a number of aircraft permanently based in the US for pilot training, the RAF will by 2020 in theory have about 100 aircraft “free to use” left. Take out 30 to 50 percent due to maintenance and lack of spare parts and Britain’s hope in dark days is down to about 50 to 60 Eurofighter Typhoons of Trance 2 and 3, which hopefully by then are upgraded enough to fulfill all that is asked from them.

A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 being refueled by a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-150 Polaris during Operation Inherent Resolve on 2 February 2015. (Image © Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND)
A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 being refueled by a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-150 Polaris during Operation Inherent Resolve on 2 February 2015. (Image © Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND)
RAF Typhoon ZJ803 during an earlier training (Image © Marcel Burger)
RAF Typhoon ZJ803 during an earlier training (Image © Marcel Burger)

Those tasks – for a fighter jet designed to patrol the skies and engage enemy aircraft, not ground targets – will include giving air defence to the nation, supporting British ground forces at home and abroad, give future British fighter jocks the necessary training, providing air strike capability to combat ISIS, support fighterless fellow NATO nations as Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with deterrence power and fly air coverage for the Royal Navy ships and vessels.

That maritime coverage will include the US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, unless Britain can get the US Marine Corps to help them out with some fighter coverage. The RAF/Royal Navy’s own 14 Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II stealthy combat jets to operate from the HMS Queen Elizabeth are not expected to have any limited operational capability until 2021. Airheadsfly.com already reported on this issue in November last year.

Also last year the UK government decided to keep the RAF’s No. 2 Tornado squadron longer on strength, since the country simply lacked the capabilities to bomb ISIS. London might have to do that for more squadrons in the future if it wants to stay feeling safe.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A RAF Tornado GR4 breaking right over RAF Fairford (Image © Marcel Burger)

The first Tranche 3 Typhoon for the RAF airborne. Image released on 11 December 2013 (Image © BAE Systems)
The first Tranche 3 Typhoon for the RAF airborne. Image released on 11 December 2013 (Image © BAE Systems)

Enhanced dogfighting capability for Eurofighter Typhoon

The Eurofighter EF2000 / Typhoon multi-role fighter is about to get enhanced dogfighting capability. The announcement of enhancing the agility of the aircraft comes at time when a devastating pilot report has put the manoeuverability of the Typhoons main competitor – the US-made Lockheed Martin F-35 – into a bad light.

“We have successfully completed flight-testing of a package of aerodynamic upgrades to the Eurofighter Typhoon swing-role fighter that promises to enhance further the aircraft’s agility and weapons-carrying ability,” a statement of Airbus Defence and Space released on 15 July 2015 reads. Although the word “dogfight” – meaning close-combat in mid-air – is not mentioned, agility and speed are key to win such a match.

The Aerodynamic Modification Kit (AMK) – as Airbus calls it – is part of a wider Eurofighter Enhanced Manoeuvrability (EFEM) program to improve the German-British-Italian-Spanish aircraft. It entails primarily the addition of fuselage strakes and leading-edge root extensions, which increase the maximum lift created by the wing by 25 percent – resulting in an increased turn rate, tighter turning radius, and improved nose-pointing ability at low speed – all critical fighter capabilities in air-to-air combat.

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.)

Ground attack
Additional weapon options will make the aircraft effective in the ground attack and close-air support role, a task the Eurofighter has not really been up to yet. The Royal Air Force, which is one of the main operators and flies the aircraft as the Typhoon, had to keep aging Tornados in service to be effective in air strikes against the so-called Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.

Eurofighter Project Pilot Germany Raffaele Beltrame: “This program has very impressive results. We saw angle of attack values around 45 percent greater than on the standard aircraft, and roll rates up to 100 percent higher, all leading to increased agility. The handling qualities appeared to be markedly improved, providing more manoeuvrability, agility and precision while performing tasks representative of in-service operations.”

The flight trials followed some five years of studies. Eurofighter test pilots, joined in the latter stages by operational pilots from Germany, Italy and the UK, completed 36 sorties from Manching, Germany on the IPA7 Instrumented Production Aircraft.

A Spanish Eurofighter C.16 in its usual habitat (Image © Ejército del Aire)
A Spanish Eurofighter C.16 in its usual habitat (Image © Ejército del Aire)

Lightning II
While the Typhoon is improved on its dogfighting capabilities a leaked report of the other side of the Atlantic has put the future mainstay fighter jet of many air forces in a less positive position. Pilots flying the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II seem to have a hard time winning dogfights with older aircraft, like the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon the F-35 is supposed to replace.

According to pilot statements there is a lack of rear-view vision and manoeuvrability in the American jet that has been developed to engage targets stealthy and with missiles from beyond visual range. Let’s hope then for the F-35 jocks they will never end face-to-face in battle with the agile Russian Flanker jets and have to call in Eurofighter Typhoons to save their skin.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, incl. source information provided by Airbus Defence and Space
Featured image: The EF2000 IPA7 testbed in flight (Image © Andreas Zeitler / Airbus Defence and Space)

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)

Needed
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.

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

Focus
“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 Airheadsfly.com 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.)

Spanish Eurofighters performing well

Never mind the devastating reports we have seen on the operational availability of the Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon aircraft in Luftwaffe and Royal Air Force service. Europe’s multi-role jet fighter has a little success story to tell, with the detachment of the Spanish Air Force at Ämari Airbase in Estonia.

Four C.16s – as the Typhoons are called in Ejército del Aire service – from Ala 11 out of Morón provide part of NATO’s air cover for the Baltic republics Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 1 January 2015. According to Spanish military sources to the nation’s leading newspaper El País the Eurofighters flew 108 patrols, clocking 200 hours of flight time and only cancelling one pre-planned sortie because of technical problems.

Like with many other NATO countries Spain has contributed to the Baltic Air Policing before, which is costing the Spanish tax payers about 9 million euros for the current engagement in Estonia that lasts until the end of May. In 2006 four Dassault C.14s (Mirage F-1s) from Ala 14 were deployed to Lithuania. The government in Madrid plans to send the next Spanish Air Force Baltic Air Policing rotation in 2016.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Spanish Eurofighter C.16 in its usual habitat (Image © Ejército del Aire)

↑ See our continuing coverage of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission

Photo Essay: Red Flag 15-1 through Aussie eyes

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) participated in Exercise Red Flag 15-1 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada from 27 January to 13 February 2015 with turboprop aircraft. It was a first for the RAAF’s Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, two of these tactical airlifters took part, and the RAAF Lockheed AP-3C Orion maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft. Utilising the vast Nevada Test and Training Range, the Aussies flew in advanced airborne training environments to overcome simulated threats in the air and from the ground – working together with elements of the Royal Air Force and the United States armed forces.

That the 150 RAAF personnel deployed to Nellis had fun is clearly visible in the photographs we’ve got. We at Airheadsfly.com just think it is fantastic to able to share our selection of the excellent images taken by LAC Michael Green from the RAAF’s 28 Squadron of the Red Flag 15-1 ops.

Want more? ↑ See all our Red Flag features.

An US Air Force F-22A Raptor on short finals for landing at Nellis Air Force Base following a Red Flag 15-1 mission. (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An US Air Force F-22A Raptor on short finals for landing at Nellis Air Force Base following a Red Flag 15-1 mission. (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Royal Australian Air Force aircraft technicians prepare a No 37 Squadron C-130J for a Red Flag 15-1 mission (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Royal Australian Air Force aircraft technicians prepare a No 37 Squadron C-130J for a Red Flag 15-1 mission (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An USAF F-16C from the 64th Aggressor Squadron passing the Nellis flight line during Exercise Red Flag 2015-1 (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An USAF F-16C from the 64th Aggressor Squadron passing the Nellis flight line during Exercise Red Flag 2015-1 (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon takes off at Nellis (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon takes off at Nellis, with a USAF B-2 stealth bomber in the background (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Overhead Nellis a formation of four USAF F-16C Fighting Falcons (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Overhead Nellis a formation of four USAF F-16C Fighting Falcons (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An USAF F-15E Strike Eagle taxis past the RAAF No 10 Squadron AP-3C Orion taking part in Red Flag 15-1 (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An USAF F-15E Strike Eagle taxis past the RAAF No 10 Squadron AP-3C Orion taking part in Red Flag 15-1 (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Sentinel aircraft takes off during Red Flag 15-1 (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Sentinel aircraft takes off during Red Flag 15-1 (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF No 37 Squadron C-130J takes off on a mission as an F-16C Fighting Falcon from the United States Air Force's 64th Aggressor Squadron taxis along the flight line at Nellis (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF No 37 Squadron C-130J takes off on a mission as an F-16C Fighting Falcon from the United States Air Force’s 64th Aggressor Squadron taxis along the flight line at Nellis (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF C-130J Hercules from No 37 Squadron on its landing roll at Nellis (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF C-130J Hercules from No 37 Squadron on its landing roll at Nellis (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Against the skyline of Las Vegas an F-22A Raptor lands at Nellis (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Against the skyline of Las Vegas an F-22A Raptor lands at Nellis (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAF Typhoon on the flightline of Nellis during night ops (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAF Typhoon on the flightline of Nellis during night ops (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Charlie Viper from the USAF 64th Aggressor Squadron airborne (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Charlie Viper from the USAF 64th Aggressor Squadron airborne (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
After-flight checks are performed on an RAAF C-130J Hercules. Seen behind it is a USAF HC-130J (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
After-flight checks are performed on an RAAF C-130J Hercules. Seen behind it is a USAF HC-130J (Image © LAC Michael Green / 28SQN AFID-CBR / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)