Eurofighter Typhoon
A Eurofighter Typhoon of the Royal Saudi Air Force over Malta in 2010
Role Multirole fighter
Manufacturer Eurofighter GmbH
First flight 27 March 1994[1]
Introduction 4 August 2003
Status Operational
Primary users Royal Air Force
Italian Air Force
Spanish Air Force
See Operators section for others
Number built 300 as of October 2011[2]
471 ordered (as of January 2009)
Developed from British Aerospace EAP
Variants Eurofighter Typhoon variants

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986. The project is managed by the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency, which acts as the prime customer.[3]

Series production of the Eurofighter Typhoon is underway, and the aircraft is being procured under separate contracts, named "tranches", each for aircraft with generally improved capabilities. The aircraft has entered service with the Austrian Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the German Luftwaffe, the British Royal Air Force, the Spanish Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Force.



File:Eurofighter logo.svg
Official Eurofighter logo

The UK had identified a requirement for a new fighter as early as 1971. A specification, AST 403, issued by the Air Staff in 1972, resulted in a conventional "tailed" design known as P.96, which was presented in the late 1970s. While the design would have met the Air Staff's requirements, the UK air industry had reservations as it appeared to be very similar to the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, which was then well advanced in its development. The design had little potential for future growth, and when it entered production it would secure few exports in a market in which the Hornet would be well established.[4] However, the simultaneous West German requirement for a new fighter had led by 1979 to the development of the TKF-90 concept.[5][6] This was a cranked delta wing design with forward canard controls and artificial stability. Although the British Aerospace designers rejected some of its advanced features such as vectoring engine nozzles and vented trailing-edge controls, they agreed with the overall configuration.

In 1979, Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) and British Aerospace (BAe) presented a formal proposal to their respective governments for the ECF, the European Collaborative Fighter[7] or European Combat Fighter.[6] In October 1979 Dassault joined the ECF team for a tri-national study, which became known as the European Combat Aircraft.[7] It was at this stage of development that the Eurofighter name was first attached to the aircraft.[8] The development of different national prototypes continued. France produced the ACX. The UK produced two designs; the P.106[N 1]was a single-engined "lightweight" fighter, superficially resembling the JAS 39 Gripen, the P.110 was a twin-engined fighter. The P.106 concept was rejected by the RAF, on the grounds that it had "half the effectiveness of the two-engined aircraft at two thirds of the cost".[4] West Germany continued to refine the TFK-90 concept.[6] The ECA project collapsed in 1981 for several reasons including differing requirements, Dassault's insistence on "design leadership" and the British preference for a new version of the RB199 to power the aircraft versus the French preference for the new Snecma M88.[8]

As a result the Panavia partners (MBB, BAe and Aeritalia) launched the Agile Combat Aircraft (ACA) programme in April 1982.[10] The ACA was very similar to the BAe P.110, having a cranked delta wing, canards and a twin tail. One major external difference was the replacement of the side mounted engine intakes with a chin intake. The ACA was to be powered by a modified version of the RB199. The German and Italian governments withdrew funding, and the UK Ministry of Defence agreed to fund 50% of the cost with the remaining 50% to be provided by industry. MBB and Aeritalia signed up with the aim of producing two aircraft, one at Warton and one by MBB. In May 1983 BAe announced a contract with the MoD for the development and production of an ACA demonstrator, the Experimental Aircraft Programme.[10][11]

In 1983 the Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain launched the Future European Fighter Aircraft (FEFA) programme. The aircraft was to have short take off and landing (STOL) and beyond visual range (BVR) capabilities. In 1984 France reiterated its requirement for a carrier-capable version and demanded a leading role. The West Germany, UK and Italy opted out and established a new EFA programme.[6] In Turin on 2 August 1985, West Germany, UK and Italy agreed to go ahead with the Eurofighter; and confirmed that France, along with Spain, had chosen not to proceed as a member of the project.[12] Despite pressure from France, Spain rejoined the Eurofighter project in early September 1985.[13] France officially withdrew from the project to pursue its own ACX project, which was to become the Dassault Rafale.

Close up view of an RAF Typhoon F2, showing the deflected canard control surface immediately below the pilot

By 1986, the cost of the programme had reached £180 million.[14] When the EAP programme had started, the cost was supposed to be equally shared by both government and industry, but the West German and Italian government wavered on the agreement and the three main industrial partners had to provide £100 million to keep the programme from ending. In April 1986 the BAe EAP was rolled out at BAe Warton, by this time also partially funded by MBB, BAe and Aeritalia.[14] The EAP first flew on 6 August 1986.[15] The Eurofighter bears a strong resemblance to the EAP. Design work continued over the next five years using data from the EAP. Initial requirements were: UK: 250 aircraft, Germany: 250, Italy: 165 and Spain: 100. The share of the production work was divided among the countries in proportion to their projected procurement – DASA (33%), British Aerospace (33%), Aeritalia (21%), and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) (13%).

The Munich based Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH was established in 1986 to manage development of the project[16] and EuroJet Turbo GmbH, the alliance of Rolls-Royce, MTU Aero Engines, FiatAvio (now Avio) and ITP for development of the EJ200. The aircraft was known as Eurofighter EFA from the late 1980s until it was renamed EF 2000 in 1992.[17]

By 1990, the selection of the aircraft's radar had become a major stumbling block. The UK, Italy and Spain supported the Ferranti Defence Systems-led ECR-90, while Germany preferred the APG-65 based MSD2000 (a collaboration between Hughes, AEG and GEC-Marconi). An agreement was reached after UK Defence Secretary Tom King assured his West German counterpart Gerhard Stoltenberg that the British government would approve the project and allow GEC to acquire Ferranti Defence Systems from its troubled parent. GEC thus withdrew its support for the MSD2000.[18]


The maiden flight of the Eurofighter prototype took place in Bavaria on 27 March 1994, flown by DASA Chief Test Pilot Peter Weger.[1] On 9 December 2004, Eurofighter Typhoon IPA4 began three months of Cold Environmental Trials (CET) at the Vidsel Air Base in Sweden, the purpose of which was to verify the operational behaviour of the aircraft and its systems in temperatures between −25 and 31 °C.[19] The maiden flight of Instrumented Production Aircraft 7 (IPA7), the first fully equipped Tranche 2 aircraft, took place from EADS' Manching airfield on 16 January 2008.[20]

In May 2007, Eurofighter Development Aircraft 5 made the first flight with the CAESAR demonstrator system,[21] a development of the Euroradar CAPTOR incorporating Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology. The production version of the CAPTOR-E radar was being proposed as part of Tranche 3 of the Typhoon from 2012. Tranche 2 aircraft use the non AESA, mechanically scanned Captor-M which incorporates weight and space provisions for possible upgrade to CAESAR (AESA) standard in the future.[22] The Italian Air Force doubted that the AESA radar would be ready in time for Tranche 3 production.[23] In July 2010, Eurofighter announced that the AESA radar would enter service in 2015.[24][25]

A German Luftwaffe Eurofighter Instrumented Production Aircraft.


The first production contract was signed on 30 January 1998 between Eurofighter GmbH, Eurojet and NETMA.[26] The procurement totals were as follows: UK 232, Germany 180, Italy 121, and Spain 87. Production was again allotted according to procurement: British Aerospace (37.42%), DASA (29.03%), Aeritalia (19.52%), and CASA (14.03%).

On 2 September 1998, a naming ceremony was held at Farnborough, United Kingdom. This saw the Typhoon name formally adopted, initially for export aircraft only. This was reportedly resisted by Germany; perhaps because the Hawker Typhoon was a fighter-bomber aircraft which served with the RAF during the Second World War against German targets.[27] The name "Spitfire II" (for the famous British WWII fighter, the Supermarine Spitfire) had also been considered and rejected for the same reason early in the development programme. In September 1998 contracts were signed for production of 148 Tranche 1 aircraft and procurement of long lead-time items for Tranche 2 aircraft.[28] In March 2008 the final aircraft out of Tranche 1 was delivered to the German Luftwaffe, with all successive deliveries being at the Tranche 2 standard.[29] On 21 October 2008, the first two of 91 Tranche 2 aircraft, ordered four years before, were delivered to RAF Coningsby.[30]

In October 2008, the Eurofighter nations were considering splitting the 236-fighter Tranche 3 into two parts.[31] In June 2009, RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy suggested that the RAF fleet might only be 123 jets, instead of the 232 previously planned.[32] In spite of this reduction in the number of required aircraft, on 14 May 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed that the UK would move ahead with the third batch purchase. A contract for the first part, Tranche 3A, was signed at the end of July 2009 for 112 aircraft split across the four partner nations, including 40 aircraft for the UK, 31 for Germany, 21 for Italy and 20 for Spain.[33][34] These 40 aircraft were said to have fully covered the UK's obligations in the project by Air Commodore Chris Bushell, due to cost overruns in the project.[35]


In 1988, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces told the UK House of Commons that the European Fighter Aircraft would "be a major project, costing the United Kingdom about £7 billion".[36] It was soon apparent that a more realistic estimate was £13 billion,[37] made up of £3.3 billion development costs[38] plus £30 million per aircraft.[39] By 1997 the estimated cost was £17 billion; by 2003, £20 billion, and the in-service date (2003; defined as the date of delivery of the first aircraft to the RAF) was 54 months late.[40][41] After 2003 the Ministry of Defence have refused to release updated cost estimates on the grounds of 'commercial sensitivity',[42] however in 2011 the National Audit Office estimated the UK's "total programme cost [would] eventually hit £37 billion".[43]

By 2007, Germany estimated the system cost (aircraft, training plus spare parts) to €120m and said it was in perpetual increase.[44] On 17 June 2009, Germany ordered 31 aircraft of Tranche 3A for €2,800m, leading to a system cost of €90m per aircraft.[45] The UK's Committee of Public Accounts reported that the mismanagement of the project had helped increase the cost of each aircraft by 75 percent. Defence Secretary Liam Fox responded that "I am determined that in the future such projects are properly run from the outset, and I have announced reforms to reduce equipment delays and cost overruns."[46]


The financial burdens placed on Germany by reunification caused Helmut Kohl to make an election promise to cancel the Eurofighter. In early to mid-1991 German Defence Minister Volker Rühe sought to withdraw Germany from the project in favour of using Eurofighter technology in a cheaper, lighter plane. Due to the amount of money already spent on development, the number of jobs dependent on the project, and the binding commitments on each partner government, Helmut Kohl was unable to withdraw; "Rühe's predecessors had locked themselves into the project by a punitive penalty system of their own devising."[47]

In 1995 concerns over workshare appeared. Since the formation of Eurofighter the workshare split had been agreed at the 33/33/21/13 (United Kingdom/Germany/Italy/Spain) based on the number of units being ordered by each contributing nation. All the nations then reduced their orders. The UK cut its orders from 250 to 232, Germany from 250 to 140, Italy from 165 to 121 and Spain from 100 to 87.[47] According to these order levels the workshare split should have been 39/24/22/15 UK/Germany/Italy/Spain, Germany was unwilling to give up such a large amount of work.[47] In January 1996, after much negotiation between German and UK partners, a compromise was reached whereby Germany would purchase another 40 aircraft.[47] The workshare split is now 43% for EADS MAS in Germany and Spain; 37.5% BAE Systems in the UK; and 19.5% for Alenia in Italy.[48]

The next major milestone came at the Farnborough Airshow in September 1996.[citation needed] The UK announced the funding for the construction phase of the project. In November 1996 Spain confirmed its order but Germany delayed its decision. After much diplomatic activity between Germany and UK, an interim funding arrangement of DM100 million (€51 million) was contributed by the German government in July 1997 to continue flight trials. Further negotiation finally resulted in German approval to purchase the Eurofighter in October 1997.[citation needed]


Gray-overall jet aircraft taxiing towards right of photograph. On the tail and underneath the cockpit are green and yellow symbols.
Eurofighter Typhoon F2, RAF single-seat fighter variant
A Luftwaffe single-seater version of the Eurofighter

The Eurofighter Typhoon is unique in modern combat aircraft in that there are four separate assembly lines. Each partner company assembles its own national aircraft, but builds the same parts for all 683 aircraft (including exports). A fifth assembly line will be established for the final 48 Saudi aircraft.

Main centre fuselage[49]
Right wing, leading edge slats
BAE Systems
Front fuselage (including foreplanes), canopy, dorsal spine, tail fin, inboard flaperons, rear fuselage section
Alenia Aeronautica
Left wing, outboard flaperons, rear fuselage sections

Production is divided into three tranches (see table below). Tranches are a production/funding distinction, and do not necessarily imply an incremental increase in capability with each tranche. Tranche 3 will most likely be based on late Tranche 2 aircraft with improvements added. Tranche 3 has been split into A and B parts.[34]

Tranches are further divided up into production standard/capability blocks and funding/procurement batches, though these do not coincide, and are not the same thing; e.g., the Eurofighter designated FGR4 by the RAF is a Tranche 1, block 5. Batch 1 covered block 1, but batch 2 covered blocks 2, 2B and 5.

Expected production summary
Country Tranche 1 Tranche 2 Tranche 3A[50] Total
 Austria 15 0 0 15
 Germany 33 79 31 143
 Italy 28 47 21 96
 Saudi Arabia 0 24 48 72
 Spain 19 34 20 73
 United Kingdom 53 67 40[51] 160
Total 148 299 112[50] 559
Notes: The change in Austria's order from 6 Tranche 1 and 12 Tranche 2 aircraft to 15 Tranche 1 jets led to a reduction in Tranche 1 quantities for the four partner nations, with a commensurate increase in Tranche 2 numbers. 24 Saudi aircraft were taken from UK Tranche 2 production, and were to have been replaced at the end of Tranche 2, but will now be accounted against the UK's Tranche 3A total. This marks an effective reduction of 24 aircraft in the UK order total.[52]

On 25 May 2011 the 100th production aircraft, ZK315, rolled off the production line at Warton.[53]


In 2002, the MBDA Meteor was selected as the long range air-to-air missile armament of Eurofighter Typhoon.[54] Pending Meteor availability, Typhoon will be equipped with the Raytheon AMRAAM. The predicted in-service date for Meteor is August 2012.[55]

In 2009, Eurofighter operators and manufacturers met to consider the upgrading of the current fleet with the MBDA Meteor missile and an Active Electronically Scanned Array radar.[50] On 22 June 2011, it was announced that the partner nations had agreed to fund development of the next generation E-Scan radar, and confirmed an entry into service date of 2015.[56]

Eurojet is attempting to find funding to test a thrust vectoring nozzle (TVN) on a flight demonstrator.[57] Additionally, the RAF has sought to develop conformal fuel tanks (CFT) for their Typhoons to free up underwing space for weapons.[58][N 2]


Airframe and avionics

The Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft at both supersonic and low speeds, achieved though having an intentionally relaxed stability design. It has a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire control system providing artificial stability, manual operation alone could not compensate for the inherent instability. The fly-by-wire system is described as "carefree", and prevents the pilot from exceeding the permitted manoeuvre envelope. Roll control is primarily achieved by use of the wing flaperons. Pitch control is by operation of the foreplanes and flaperons, the yaw control is by rudder.[59] Control surfaces are moved through two independent hydraulic systems that are incorporated in the aircraft, which also supply various other items, such as the canopy, brakes and undercarriage; powered by a 4000 psi engine-driven gearbox.[60]

Spanish Air Force Typhoon taking off in the RIAT 2007.

Navigation is via both GPS and an inertial navigation system. The Typhoon can use Instrument Landing System (ILS) for landing in poor weather. The aircraft also features a ground proximity warning system based on the TERPROM Terrain Referenced Navigation (TRN) system used by the Panavia Tornado.[61] The Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) provides a Link 16 data link.[62]

The aircraft employs a sophisticated and highly integrated Defensive Aids Sub-System named Praetorian[63] (formerly called EuroDASS).[64] Praetorian monitors and responds automatically to Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface threats, provides an all-round prioritized assessment, and can respond to multiple threats simutaneously. Threat detection methods include a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and a Laser Warning Receiver (LWR, only on UK Typhoons). Protection is provided by Chaff, Jaff and Flares, Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) and a Towed Radar Decoy (TRD).[65]

The Typhoon features lightweight construction (82% composites consisting of 70% carbon fibre composites and 12% glass reinforced composites)[66] with an estimated lifespan of 6000 flying hours.[67]


General features

MHDDs and pedestal panel with centre stick in the Typhoon cockpit

The Eurofighter Typhoon features a glass cockpit without any conventional instruments. It includes: three full colour multi-function head-down displays (MHDDs) (the formats on which are manipulated by means of softkeys, XY cursor, and voice (DVI) command), a wide angle head-up display (HUD) with forward-looking infrared (FLIR), voice and hands-on throttle and stick (Voice+HOTAS), Helmet Mounted Symbology System (HMSS), Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS), a manual data-entry facility (MDEF) located on the left glareshield and a fully integrated aircraft warning system with a dedicated warnings panel (DWP). Reversionary flying instruments, lit by LEDs, are located under a hinged right glareshield.[68]

The cockpit was developed with a user-centric focus, the layout and functionality was created through feedback and assessments from military pilots and a specialist testing facility.[69] The pilot controls the aircraft by means of a centre stick and left hand throttles, designed on a Hand on Throttle & Stick (HOTAS) principle to lower pilot workloads.[70] Emergency escape is provided by a Martin-Baker Mk.16A ejection seat, with the canopy being jettisoned by two rocket motors.[71] The HMSS has been delayed for many years but should be operational by the end of 2011.[72]

The aircraft's standard g-force protection is provided by the full-cover anti-g trousers (FCAGTs).[73] This specially developed g suit provides sustained protection up to 9 g. The Typhoon pilots of the German Air Force and Austrian Air Force wear a hydrostatic g-suit called Libelle (dragonfly) Multi G Plus instead,[74][75][76] which also provides protection to the arms, theoretically allowing for more complete g tolerance.

Voice control

The Typhoon DVI system utilises a speech recognition module (SRM), developed by Smiths Aerospace (now GE Aviation Systems) and Computing Devices (now General Dynamics UK). It was the first production DVI system utilised in a military cockpit. DVI provides the pilot with an additional natural mode of command and control over approximately 26 non-critical cockpit functions, to reduce pilot workload, improve aircraft safety, and expand mission capabilities. An important step in the development of the DVI occurred in 1987 when Texas Instruments completed the TMS-320-C30, a digital signal processor, enabling reductions size and system complexity required. The project was given the go ahead in July 1997, with development and pilot assessment carried out on the Eurofighter Active Cockpit Simulator at BAE Systems Warton.[77]

The DVI system is speaker-dependent; i.e., requires each pilot to create a template. It is not used for any safety-critical or weapon-critical tasks, such as weapon release or lowering of the undercarriage, but is used for a wide range of other cockpit functions.[78][79] Voice commands are confirmed by visual or aural feedback. The system is seen as a major design feature in the reduction of pilot workload and even allows the pilot to assign targets to himself with two simple voice commands, or to any of his wingmen with only five commands.[80]

Search and track system

The Passive Infra-Red Airborne Track Equipment (PIRATE) system is an infrared search and track system (IRST) mounted on the port side of the fuselage, forward of the windscreen. SELEX Galileo is the lead contractor which, along with Thales Optronics (system technical authority) and Tecnobit of Spain, make up the EUROFIRST consortium responsible for the system's design and development.

PIRATE operates in two IR bands, 3–5 and 8–11 micrometres. When used with the radar in an air-to-air role, it functions as an infrared search and track system, providing passive target detection and tracking. In an air-to-surface role, it performs target identification and acquisition. It also provides a navigation and landing aid. PIRATE is linked to the pilot’s helmet mounted display.[81]

Eurofighters starting with Tranche 1 block 5 have the PIRATE. The first Eurofighter Typhoon with PIRATE-IRST was delivered to the Italian Aeronautica Militare in August 2007.[82] More advanced targeting capabilities can be provided with the addition of a targeting pod such as the LITENING pod.[83]


Flight demonstration at WTD61 Manching/Germany.
Gray jet fighter in-flight, adopting nose-up attitude against blue clear sky
A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon T1

In 2004, United States Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. Jumper said after flying the Eurofighter, "I have flown all the air force jets. None was as good as the Eurofighter."[84][85]

The Typhoon's combat performance, compared to the F-22 Raptor and the upcoming F-35 Lightning II[86] fighters and the French Dassault Rafale, has been the subject of much discussion. In March 2005, Jumper, then the only person to have flown both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Raptor, talked to Air Force Print News about these two aircraft. He said,

The Eurofighter is both agile and sophisticated, but is still difficult to compare to the F/A-22 Raptor. They are different kinds of airplanes to start with; it's like asking us to compare a NASCAR car with a Formula One car. They are both exciting in different ways, but they are designed for different levels of performance. …The Eurofighter is certainly, as far as smoothness of controls and the ability to pull (and sustain high g forces), very impressive. That is what it was designed to do, especially the version I flew, with the avionics, the color moving map displays, etc. — all absolutely top notch. The maneuverability of the airplane in close-in combat was also very impressive.

— [87]

In July 2007, the Indian Air Force fielded the Su-30MKI during the Indra-Dhanush exercise with Royal Air Force's Typhoon. This was the first time that the two jets had taken part in such an exercise.[88][89] The IAF did not allow their pilots to use the MKI's radar during the exercise to protect the highly-classified N011M Bars.[90] RAF Tornado pilots were candid in their admission of the Su-30MKI's superior manoeuvring in the air, just as they had anticipated, but the IAF pilots were also impressed by the Typhoon's agility in the air.[91] This summary of the Indra-Dhanush is often mis-quoted by leaving the word "Tornado" out of the statement, to make it appear that it is the Typhoon which was less manoeuvrable than the Su-30MKI. The RAF however, were adamant that the Typhoon and Sukhoi did not actually go in mock combat on that particular exercise. In this context, the quote from the IAF pilots concerning the agility of the Typhoon no longer appears self contradictory.

The Typhoon is capable of supersonic cruise without using afterburners (referred to as supercruise). According to the official German Luftwaffe and Austrian Eurofighter website, the maximum speed possible without reheat is between Mach 1.2 and Mach 1.5.[92] [N 3][94] Air Forces Monthly gives a maximum supercruise speed of Mach 1.1 for the RAF FGR4 multirole version.[95] It has been suggested, in contradiction to other sources that the Eurofighter Typhoon could only supercruise in a clean configuration without external missiles and fuel tanks. While this is untrue, attention is drawn by these suggestions to the fact that not all weapons loadouts are necessarily certified for supersonic flight at all, even with afterburner.[citation needed]

The Eurofighter consortium claims their fighter has a larger sustained subsonic turn rate, sustained supersonic turn rate, and faster acceleration at Mach 0.9 at 20,000 feet (6,100 m) than the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, Dassault Mirage 2000, Dassault Rafale, the Sukhoi Su-27, and the Mikoyan MiG-29.[96][97]

In 2005, a trainer Eurofighter T1 was reported to have had a chance encounter the previous year with two U.S. Air Force F-15Es over the Lake District in the north of England. The encounter became a mock dogfight with the Eurofighter allegedly emerging "victorious".[98]

In the 2005 Singapore evaluation, the Typhoon won all three combat tests, including one in which a single Typhoon defeated three RSAF F-16s, and reliably completed all planned flight tests.[99] In July 2009, Former Chief of Air Staff for the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, said that "The Eurofighter Typhoon is an excellent aircraft. It will be the backbone of the Royal Air Force along with the JSF".[100]

Eurofighter claims that their aircraft will be able to defeat a "generic" stealth fighter through the use of IRST and by flying a wall formation, which would ensure that at least some of the Eurofighters are not facing the minimum nose-on RCS that stealth fighters have been designed for.[101]

Air-to-ground capabilities

A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 at Nellis AFB in Nevada, USA

The Typhoon is a multi-role fighter with maturing air-to-ground capabilities. Earlier than scheduled, the RAF integrated the air to ground capability, based on the Rafael[102]/Ultra Electronics Litening III laser designator[103] and the Enhanced Paveway II/III laser guided bomb[104] under the "Austere" programme.[105] A more comprehensive air-to-ground attack capability including Paveway IV, EGBU-16 bombs and a higher degree of automation will be achieved for all partner nations with the Phase 1 Enhancements currently in development.[106] Synthetic Aperture Radar is expected to be fielded as part of the AESA radar upgrade starting in 2013 which will give the Eurofighter an all-weather ground attack capability.[107]

The absence of such a capability is believed to have been a factor in the type's rejection from Singapore's fighter competition in 2005. At the time it was claimed that Singapore was concerned about the delivery timescale and the ability of the Eurofighter partner nations to fund the current capability packages.[108] With the planned Phase 2 Enhancements Eurofighter GmbH hopes to increase the appeal of Typhoon to possible export customers and to make the aircraft more useful to partner air forces.[106]

Radar signature reduction features

Although not designated a stealth fighter, measures were taken to reduce the Typhoon's radar cross section (RCS), especially from the frontal aspect.[109][110] An example of these measures is that the Typhoon has jet inlets that conceal the front of the jet engine (a strong radar target) from radar. Many important potential radar targets, such as the wing, canard and fin leading edges, are highly swept, so will reflect radar energy well away from the front sector.[111] Some external weapons are mounted semi-recessed into the aircraft, partially shielding these missiles from incoming radar waves.[109] In addition radar absorbent materials (RAM) developed primarily by EADS/DASA coat many of the most significant reflectors, e.g., the wing leading edges, the intake edges and interior, the rudder surrounds, and strakes.[109][112] The Typhoon does not use internal storage of weapons. External mounting points are used instead, which increases its radar cross section but allows for more and larger stores.[113]

The Eurofighter operates automatic Emission Controls (EMCON) to reduce the Electro-Magnetic emissions of the current mechanically scanned Radar.[109] The Captor-M was the first NATO-Radar with three rather than two working channels, one intended for classification of jammer and for jamming suppression.[114] The German BW-Plan 2009 indicates that Germany will equip/retrofit the Luftwaffe's Eurofighters with the AESA Captor-E from 2012.[115] The conversion to AESA will give the Eurofighter a low probability of intercept radar with much better jam resistance.[116][117] These include an innovative design with a gimbal to meet RAF requirements for a wider scan field than a fixed AESA.[118] The coverage of a fixed AESA is limited to 120° in azimuth and elevation.[119]

According to the RAF, the Eurofighter's RCS is better than RAF requirements. Comments from BAE Systems suggest the radar return is around one quarter of that of the Tornado it replaces.[109] The Eurofighter is thought to have an RCS of less than one square metre in a clean configuration by author Doug Richardson, although no official value is available.[111]

The manufacturers have carried out tests on the early Eurofighter prototypes to optimize the low observability characteristics of the aircraft from the early 1990s. Testing at BAE's Warton facility on the DA4 prototype measured the RCS of the aircraft and investigated the effects of a variety of RAM coatings. Another measure to reduce the likelihood of discovery is the use of passive sensors, which minimises the radiation of treacherous electronic emissions. While canards generally have poor stealth characteristics,[120] the flight control system is designed to minimise the RCS in flight, maintaining the elevon trim and canards at an angle to minimise RCS.[121][122]

Operational history

Entry into service

A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon, on deployment near Massachusetts, USA

On 4 August 2003, Germany accepted the first series production Eurofighter (GT003).[123] Also that year, Spain took delivery of its first series production aircraft.[124] On 16 December 2005, the Typhoon reached initial operational capability (IOC) with the Italian Air Force. Its Typhoons were put into service as air defence fighters at Grosseto Air Base, and immediately assigned to Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) at the same base.[125]

On 9 August 2007, the UK's Ministry of Defence reported that No. XI Squadron of the RAF, which stood up as a Typhoon squadron on 29 March 2007, had taken delivery of its first two multi-role Typhoons.[126] Two of XI Squadron's Typhoons were sent to intercept a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 approaching British airspace on 17 August 2007.[127] The RAF Typhoons were declared combat ready in the air-to-ground role by 1 July 2008.[128] The RAF Typhoons were projected to be ready to deploy for operations by mid-2008.[126]

Around 25 April 2008 a Typhoon from 17 Squadron at RAF Coningsby, operating at the US Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake test centre in California, USA, suffered extensive damage during landing when its landing gear did not deploy.[129] Although no immediate cause was determined it was speculated that pilot error may have been to blame.[130] The National Audit Office observed in 2011 that the distribution of the Eurofighter's parts supply and repairs over several countries has led to parts shortages, long timescales for repairs and the cannibalisation of some aircraft to keep others flying.[131]

On 11 September 2008, the combined flying time of the five customer Air Forces and the industrial Flight Test programme saw aircraft surpass the 50,000 flight hours milestone.[132] On 31 March 2009 a Eurofighter Typhoon fired an AMRAAM whilst having its radar in passive mode for the first time, the necessary target data for the missile was acquired by the radar of a second Eurofighter Typhoon and transmitted using the Multi Functional Information Distribution System (MIDS).[133]


On 17 July 2009, Italian Air Force Eurofighters were deployed to protect Albania's airspace.[134] In September 2009, four RAF Typhoons deployed to RAF Mount Pleasant replacing the Tornado F3s defending the Falkland Islands. The government of Argentina "is understood to have made a formal protest".[135]

On 24 August 2010, the project suffered its first fatality when a two seat Typhoon crashed, for unknown reasons, killing a Saudi Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, the front seat occupant, shortly after taking off from Moron Air Base in Spain. Experts suspect that a bird strike had destroyed "important sensors".[136][137] The Spanish instructor ejected and sustained only minor injuries.[138] Following this incident the German Luftwaffe grounded its 55 planes on 16 September 2010,[139][140] amidst concerns that after ejecting successfully the pilot had fallen to his death. In response to the investigation of the crash, on 17 September 2010, the RAF temporarily grounded all Typhoon training flights. Quick Reaction Alert duties were unaffected.[141] On 21 September, the RAF announced that the harness system had been sufficiently modified to enable routine flying from RAF Coningsby. The Austrian Air Force also said that all its aircraft had been cleared for flight.[142] On 24 August 2010, the ejection seat manufacturer Martin Baker commented: ".. under certain conditions, the quick release fitting could be unlocked using the palm of the hands, rather than the thumb and fingers and that this posed a risk of inadvertent release," and added that a modification had been rapidly developed and approved "to eliminate this risk" and was being fitted to all Typhoon seats.[143]

Recent service

In January 2011 the aircraft passed the milestone of 100,000 flying hours across the entire fleet.[144]

On 18 March 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the UK would deploy Typhoons, alongside Panavia Tornados, to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya.[145] On 20 March 10 Typhoons from RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars arrived at the Gioia del Colle airbase in southern Italy.[146] On 21 March RAF Typhoons flew their first ever combat mission while patrolling the no-fly Zone.[147] On 29 March, it was revealed that the RAF were short of pilots to fly the required number of sorties over Libya and were having to divert personnel from Typhoon training in order to meet the shortfall.[148]

On 12 April 2011 a mixed pair of RAF Typhoon and Tornado GR4[149] dropped precision-guided bombs on ground vehicles operated by Gaddafi forces that were parked in an abandoned tank park.[150] Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, revealed during the Royal Aeronautical Society's Aerospace 2011 conference in London, that each aircraft dropped one GBU-16 Paveway II 454 kg (1,000 lb) laser guided bomb which struck "very successfully and very accurately". The event represented "a significant milestone in the delivery of multi-role Typhoon."[151] Target designation was provided by the Tornados with their Litening III targeting pods due to the lack of Typhoon pilots trained in air-to-ground missions.[152]

UK's then Defence Secretary Liam Fox admitted on 14 April that Britain's Eurofighter Typhoon jets were grounded last year due to shortage of spare parts. The RAF is currently "cannibalising" aircraft for spare parts in a bid to keep the maximum number of Typhoons operational on any given day. The Ministry of Defence had warned the problems were likely to continue until 2015.[153]


Unite the Union general secretary Len McCluskey has called for the development of a more advanced radar to make the Eurofighter "more exportable".[154] This AESA radar is seen as vital for the Indian purchase.[155]


On 2 July 2002, the Austrian government announced the decision to buy the Typhoon as its new air defence aircraft. The purchase of 18 Typhoons was agreed on 1 July 2003, and included training, logistics, maintenance, and a simulator. On 26 June 2007, Austrian Minister for Defense Norbert Darabos announced a reduction to 15 aircraft.[156] The first aircraft was delivered on 12 July 2007 and formally entered service in the Austrian Air Force.[157]

Saudi Arabia

After unsuccessful campaigns in South Korea and Singapore (losing in both cases to versions of the Boeing F-15E),[158] on 18 August 2006 it was announced that Saudi Arabia had agreed to purchase 72 Typhoons.[159] In November and December it was reported that Saudi Arabia had threatened to buy French Rafales because of a UK Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Al Yamamah ("the dove") defence deals which commenced in the 1980s.[160]

On 14 December 2006, Britain's attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, ordered that the Serious Fraud Office discontinue its investigation in the BAE Systems' alleged bribery to senior Saudi officials in the al-Yamamah contracts, citing "the need to safeguard national and international security".[161] The Times has raised the possibility that RAF production aircraft will be diverted as early Saudi Arabian aircraft, with the service forced to wait for its full complement of aircraft.[162] This arrangement would mirror the diversion of RAF Tornados to the RSAF. The Times has also reported that such an arrangement will make the UK purchase of its Tranche 3 commitments more likely.[162] On 17 September 2007, Saudi Arabia confirmed it had signed a GB£4.43 billion contract for 72 aircraft.[163] 24 aircraft will be at the Tranche 2 build standard, previously destined for the UK RAF, the first being delivered in 2008. The remaining 48 aircraft will be assembled in Saudi Arabia and delivered from 2011.[164] Saudi Arabia is considering an order of 24 additional jets in the future,[165] more recent reports suggest that number may be as high as 60[166] or 72,[167] but this may have been superseded by Saudi Arabia's request in August 2010 to purchase 84 new F-15s.[168]

On 29 September 2008 the United States Department of State approved the sale, required because of a certain technology governed by the ITAR process which was incorporated into the MIDS of the Eurofighter.[169][170][171][172]

On 22 October 2008, the first Typhoon in the colours of the Royal Saudi Air Force flew for the first time at BAE Systems’ Warton Aerodrome, marking the start of the test flight programme for RSAF aircraft.[173] Following the official handover of the first Eurofighter Typhoon to the Royal Saudi Air Force on 11 June 2009, the delivery ferry flight took place on 23 June 2009. Since 2010, BAE Systems has been training Saudi Arabian personnel at their factory in Warton, in preparation for setting up an assembly plant in Saudi Arabia.[174]


Eurofighter Typhoon Taxies to the runway for take off at Aero India 2011, Yelahanka Air force base Bangalore.

Eurofighter Typhoon is one of the contenders in the Indian MRCA competition to supply the Indian Air Force with 126 "Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft". The other competitors are the Boeing F/A-18IN, Dassault Rafale, Saab JAS 39 GripenNG/IN, Mikoyan MiG-35, and Lockheed Martin F-16IN Fighting Falcon.[175] Bernhard Gerwert, CEO of EADS military air systems, said that India is invited to join the Eurofighter Typhoon programme as a partner. The production of the Eurofighter Typhoon will create thousands of new jobs in India and Europe. He also said that in order to win the contract, EADS would move avionics jobs from Germany to India.[176] The campaign is fully supported by the four European nations (Germany, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy), their four Air Forces and Europe's leading aerospace companies Alenia/Finmeccanica, BAE Systems and EADS.[177]

In July 2007, Indian Air Force's (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters, which were at Waddington for the bilateral air "Exercise Indradhanush-2007", trained with RAF Typhoons.[178]

In January 2010, India's ambassador to Italy, Arif Shahid Khan, said that the Eurofighter was "leading the race" to win the MMRCA competition.[179] As reported by the Ministry of Defence on 27 April 2011, the Government of India announced that the Eurofighter is one of two fighters selected for initial bidding for the multi-billion dollar deal of 126 Multi-role medium fighter aircraft. The other fighter shortlisted is the French Rafale.[180]


In March 2007, Jane's Information Group reported that the Typhoon was the favourite to win the contest for Japan's next-generation fighter requirement.[181] The other competitors then were the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle.[181] On 17 October 2007, Japanese Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba confirmed that Japan may buy the Typhoon. Although the F-22 Raptor was in his words "exceptional", it was not "absolutely necessary for Japan", and the Typhoon was the best alternative.[182] The F-22 is currently unavailable for export per US law. During a visit to Japan in June 2009, Andy Latham of BAE pointed out that while F-22 exports were restricted to keep advanced military technology from falling into the wrong hands, selling the Typhoon would take a "no black box approach", that is that even licensed production and integration with Japanese equipment would not carry the risk of leakage of restricted military technology.[183] In July 2010, it was reported that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force favoured acquiring the F-35 ahead of the Typhoon and the F/A-18E/F to fulfill its F-X requirement due to its stealth characteristics, but the Defense Ministry was delaying its budget request to evaluate when the F-35 would be produced and delivered.[184] David Howell of the UK foreign office has suggested that Japan could partner with Britain in the continuing development of the Eurofighter.[185]

In December 2011 the Telegraph reported that the Japanese Air Force strongly favors the F-35 due to its stealth characteristics.[186] On 20 December 2011, the Japanese Government announced its intention to purchase 42 F-35s in a deal worth in excess of US$6 billion, with the budget allocation for the first four aircraft to be included in the budget year starting 1 April 2012. The purchase decision was influenced at least in part by the F-35's stealth characteristics, with the Defence Minister Mr Yasuo Ichikawa saying "There are changes in the security environment and the actions of various nations and we want to have a fighter that has the capacity to cope"Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page)..


In 1999, the Greek government agreed to acquire 60 Typhoons in order to replace its existing second-generation combat aircraft.[187] The purchase was put on hold due to budget constraints, largely driven by other development programmes and the need to cover the cost of the 2004 Summer Olympics. In June 2006 the government announced a 22 billion euro multi-year acquisition plan intended to provide the necessary budgetary framework to enable the purchase of a next-generation fighter over the next 10 years. The Typhoon is currently under consideration to fill this requirement.[188]


During the 2008 Farnborough Airshow it was announced that Oman was in an "advanced stage" of discussions towards purchasing EF Typhoons as a replacement for its Jaguar aircraft.[189][190] Oman remained interested in ordering Typhoons in April 2010[191] though the Saab JAS 39 Gripen was also being considered.[192] In April 2010, Oman revealed negotiations for an order of 18 F-16s, thus making a Eurofighter order less likely.[193] On 14 December 2011 it was announced that Oman had agreed to buy an additional 12 F-16C/D Block 50s to join the 12 F-16s C/Ds already in service.[194]

The Qatar Emiri Air Force is, as of January 2011, evaluating the Typhoon together with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Boeing F-15 and the Dassault Rafale to replace its current inventory of Dassault Mirage 2000-5s. The total order for 24–36 aircraft will be decided on by the end of 2012.[195][196]

Other potential customers of the Typhoon are Denmark, Norway[197] and Romania. BAE Systems itself reports that Typhoon is "actively being promoted in a number of other markets including Greece, Switzerland, Turkey and Japan".[198] Turkey has since indicated a preference for purchasing larger quantities of F-35 Lightning IIs and that: "Eurofighter is off Turkey's agenda".[199][200] In 2010, the government of Serbia displayed open interest in the Eurofighter.[201] In July 2011, South Korea was invited to join the Eurofighter project as a full member.[202]

On 2 December 2009, BAE Systems announced its intention to market the Typhoon as a replacement for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Mikoyan MiG-29N, due to be phased out in late 2010. According to the Regional Director-Business Development Dave Potter, the Typhoon's multi-role capabilities allow it to replace the MiG-29N.[203] Other contenders include Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Boeing F-15, Dassault Rafale, JAS 39 Gripen NG, Sukhoi Su-35, and Lockheed F-16C/D block 52 Fighting Falcon.[204]


Main article: Eurofighter Typhoon variants

Prototype on display at the 1998 Dubai Airshow with sun canopy fully deployed. The multiple roundels for the air forces are: (left to right) Spanish Ejército del Aire, Italian Aeronautica Militare, British Royal Air Force, and German Luftwaffe.

The Eurofighter is produced in single-seat and twin-seat variants. The twin-seat variant is not used operationally, but only for training. The aircraft has been manufactured in three major standards; seven Development Aircraft (DA), seven production standard Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) for further system development[205] and a continuing number of Series Production Aircraft. The production aircraft are now operational with the partner nation's air forces.

The Tranche 1 aircraft were produced from 2000 onwards. Aircraft capabilities are being increased incrementally, with each software upgrade resulting in a different standard, known as blocks.[206] With the introduction of the block 5 standard, the R2 retrofit programme began to bring all aircraft to that standard.[206]


Countries operating or ordering the Eurofighter Typhoon
Typhoon F2 of the RAF
Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon
RSAF Eurofighter Typhoon
 Saudi Arabia
 United Kingdom


Aircraft on display


External image
Cutaway diagram of Eurofighter Typhoon
image icon Cutaway of Eurofighter Typhoon by Flight Global, 2006.
EJ200 engine (foreground)
The aircraft's turbofan engine (front)
German ground crew mount an IRIS-T to a Eurofighter

Data from Typhoon performance data,[216] BAE Systems page,[95]Superfighters[217] and Brassey's Modern Fighters: The Ultimate Guide to In-Flight Tactics, Technology, Weapons, and Equipment[218]

General characteristics




See also

Related development

Related lists


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  3. ^ Note: Mach 1.21 with center drop tank 2 AIM-9 and 4 AIM-120 AFM.[93]
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