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Major flight test milestones for Eurofighter

16 Apr 2002

The first British series production Eurofighter, IPA1 (Instrumented Production Aircraft), made a successful maiden flight last evening from BAE Systems Warton facility in Lancashire, U.K.

Piloted by Eurofighter Project Pilot Keith Hartley, with Chief Test Pilot Paul Hopkins in the rear seat, IPA1 made a 26 minute test flight before returning to Warton.

Commenting on the first flight Keith Hartley said: "It was a privilege to make the first flight of IPA1 which represents a significant milestone in the programme, and is the visible result of a huge effort across Europe by BAE Systems, our European partners and our suppliers. The pilots get the pleasure of flying an outstanding aircraft, but only thanks to every one else's sterling work."

Ross Bradley, Managing Director - Eurofighter at BAE Systems said: "This is a historic event for the Eurofighter programme, BAE Systems and the European Defence industry as a whole. The Eurofighter programme is a clear demonstration of European national and industrial partnership. Today's flight would not have been possible without the thousands of highly skilled and dedicated people across the Eurofighter Partner Companies who have worked relentlessly to get the aircraft off the ground. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the four nation's air forces and defence ministries who have worked closely with us to overcome the challenges we have faced. This demonstration of teamwork must now continue as we move towards entry into service later this year and continue deliveries to the home nations over the next 15 years."

A further two IPAs are flying in Europe. IPA2 in Italy and IPA3 in Germany made their maiden flights earlier this month and the three IPAs will now join the existing seven Eurofighter Typhoon Development Aircraft (DA) in completing flight testing and certification.

In another significant milestone for the Eurofighter programme, BAE Systems' twin-seat development aircraft DA4, also based at Warton, has successfully carried out the first ever fully guided firing of a live Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) from a Eurofighter.

Piloted by BAE Systems Test Pilot Craig Penrice, with Weapons Systems Operator Stan Ralph in the rear seat, DA4 flew from Warton to the QinetiQ range at Benbecula in the Hebrides where it tracked and targeted an unmanned Mirach target before successfully firing the AMRAAM missile. The fully guided missile achieved a direct hit on the target, which was shot down into a safe area in the Atlantic Ocean.

Craig Penrice commented: "The radar acquired the Mirach at a very long range and continued to track the target all the way through until after the missile actually destroyed the target. It was very exhilarating to be involved in such an large team effort which brought about a significant achievement."

Pete Travis, Flight Development Integrated Product Team Leader at BAE Systems, added: "This event marks a major milestone in the flight test programme and for it to be such a success is a credit to everyone involved. Additionally, the sortie was supported by a Tornado chase aircraft from BAE Systems, RAF re-fuelling tanker from RAF Brize Norton and Nimrod maritime search aircraft from RAF Kinloss, so it was a real team effort."

This success for DA4 comes hot on the heels of its recent record breaking flight when, again piloted by Craig Penrice, the aircraft carried out the longest ever Eurofighter flight - four hours and 22 minutes; the first ever air-to-air refuelling by a Eurofighter with external tanks; and the first night air-to-air refuelling of a Eurofighter.

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