Speaking to the press at the Paris Air Show, the recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, Giancarlo Mezzanatto, gave his vision of the next phase of the Eurofighter Typhoon programme
After highlighting the aircraft’s success, with 589 delivered to nine customers, and the fleet that will soon attain one million flight hours, he was confident that it will remain active until 2050.
He said that the 10-year Long-Term Evolution (LTE) initiative includes bringing the Phase 4 Enhancements (P4E) programme, which is now in the assessment phase, onto contract by the end of 2023 or early 2024, enabling an initial operating capacity (IOC) by 2028.
P4E is part of the German Air Force’s Quadriga programme to bring the roles currently performed by its Panavia Tornado ECR platform onto the Typhoon, including the suppression and destruction of enemy air defences (SEAD/DEAD) and long-range strike. Germany has selected a Saab-developed electronic warfare system called Arexis, which will be integrated onto the 38 aircraft being acquired for the ECR role. They will also be equipped with the European Common Radar System (ECRS) Mk. 1. Spain is acquiring 20 Tranche 4 Eurofighter Typhoons under its project Halcon that will be similar to Germany’s Quadriga aircraft. They will also incorporate major software upgrades, a redesigned cockpit and the AESA E-Scan MK1 radar.
The P4E programme is also expected to enable the German and Spanish Typhoons to launch the Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile carried by the Tornado and F/A-18 Hornet respectively.
Future Eurofighter Typhoon upgrades, including the P5E and P6E programmes, would begin to introduce elements from the Eurofighter’s planned LTE initiative, including a mid-life update (MLU).
Mezzanatto said, “We are really aiming to have a technology maturation phase for LTE starting soon.” He also added that this would be more than an MLU. It would introduce technologies being developed for 6th generation fighters, including the capability of operating with unmanned ‘loyal wingman’.
Mezzanatto also said, “One of my objectives in this mandate is to try to align as much as possible the fleet of our customers. This will be to the best advantage of the nations.” He recognised that this will be a challenge as they operate different tranche aircraft with differing capabilities. While the UK Royal Air Force has already introduced advanced weapons systems such as Meteor and Storm Shadow, other partner nations have not.
However, Mezzanatto is confident that Eurofighter Typhoon future capabilities and performance will attract new markets over the next few years.
Photos courtesy Bundeswehr and Eurofighter