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Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 - Design

The ongoing and future Capability Enhancements will move the Eurofighter forward to a real ‘Force Multiplier’. They are targeted to significantly increase both the air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities of the Eurofighter. Recent examples are the integration of the Meteor air-to-air missile, the Brimstone air-to-ground missile, the Storm Shadow stand-off missile for deep strike missions and the introduction of the Captor-E AESA radar currently under development.

Eurofighter Test Pilot Raffaele Beltrame highlighted in 2015 the advantages of the Aerodynamic Modification Kit as part of a wider enhanced manoeuvrability programme. Summarizing the results, Beltrame said: “We saw angle of attack values around 45% greater than on the standard aircraft, and roll rates up to 100% 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. And it is extremely interesting to consider the potential benefits in the air-to-surface configuration thanks to the increased variety and flexibility of stores that can be carried.”

Eurofighter’s outstanding performance was confirmed in a Whitehall Report published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) based in London. The report of this independent think tank said: “The Eurofighter’s combination of high thrust-to-weight ratio, manoeuvrability at all speeds, 65,000-foot service ceiling, supercruise capability, powerful radar and large missile load ensures that it outclasses any currently operational fighter aircraft in the world with the exception of the US F-22 Raptor.”

Typhoon started out as an air superiority fighter with a secondary ground-attack capability, but later placed greater emphasis on all-weather precision and stand-off attack, while retaining the air superiority role. That was achieved through the provision of a laser designation pod and precision-guided bombs—in this case, Enhanced Paveway II. The flexibility to equip the aircraft to meet the weapon requirements of individual partner nations is an important feature of the aircraft. The Tornado F3 air defence aircraft was designed to intercept bombers at long range. It is not a suitable match for such hostile agile fighters as the MiG-29 and the SU-27, let alone future upgrades of those types or more modern aircraft.

To take in to account the growth potential of the aircraft and the possibility to insert new capabilities in the future, the decision was that the production of the aircraft would be divided into three Tranches: the first one for 148 aircraft, the second and the third for 236 each, with the Tranche 1 planned in production between 2003 and 2007; Tranche 2 in production between 2007 and 2012 and the Tranche 3 in production between 2012 and 2017.

Under the program known as Retrofit 2, a total of 43 Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft were upgraded by 2012 to the Tranche 1 Block 5 standard, which includes installation of the forward looking infra-red (FLIR) system, enhancement of the air-to-air capability, introduction of an air-to-surface capability and the ability to use the laser designator pod for precision weapon delivery.

The Eurofighter Typhoon's full authority, quadruplex, digital, fly-by-wire, Flight Control System (FCS), in combination with its canard/delta wing configuration airframe delivers high supersonic manoeuvrability and subsonic agility. The FCS also protects the aircraft from any inadvertent (or intentional) pilot control demands which exceed the aircraft's structural or aerodynamic limits, it also provides the pilot with carefree handling.

In most aircraft, the pilot faces a host of structural and aerodynamic limitations. An aircraft will be damaged if exposed to excessive stress forces. If a pilot turns too tightly, especially at higher speeds where a higher g force is achievable, that force can damage or deform the aircraft structure, ultimately to the point of break-up.

The controlled airflow around an aircraft body keeps an aircraft flying and manoeuvre limits are necessary to keep that airflow correct. A number of manoeuvres - rolling too quickly, pulling in to a turn or loop too quickly or flying too slowly - make the angle at which the airflow meets the aircraft ("angle of attack") too great, causing the normally smooth and predictable airflow over the aircraft wing or fin to separate. This is an aerodynamic stall that reduces the airflow's lifting effect and, unless detected and immediately corrected, can lead to departure from controlled flight.

The pilot must always know what limits apply at any part of a flight and, since the consequences of exceeding them are severe, they must take care, at all times, to fly the aircraft within these limits. In Eurofighter Typhoon, the aircraft responds to whatever demands and maneuver the pilot wishes, safe in the knowledge that the flight control computers will command the movement of the flight control surfaces to provide the response requested. Eurofighter Typhoon's FCS is also aware of the flight parameters, such as speed, altitude, configuration, aircraft mass and balance, which define the prevailing structural and aerodynamic limits, so it is able to limit any response to pilot control demands and keep the aircraft within the permitted envelope. Thus, the Eurofighter Typhoon pilot cannot over-stress the aircraft structure or fly in such a way that the aircraft departs from controlled flight.

For the combat pilot this provides two significant benefits. To get the utmost performance from the aircraft, the fighter pilot often needs to fly at the highest possible g, or angle of attack, yet without exceeding aircraft limits. This is difficult and it takes extensive training before the pilot can do this safely. Additionally, the pilot is forced to monitor the aircraft instruments and make continuous, small adjustments in response to changing indications and to achieve best performance in combat. In the Eurofighter Typhoon, the pilot can confidently and quickly demand maximum performance from the aircraft, such as pulling the control stick fully back, safe in the knowledge that the aircraft will respond with the maximum performance available without exceeding any of the limitations. Second, because pilots do not need to worry about flying within the limits, they can devote 100% of their attention to opponents, rather than monitoring aircraft parameters.

Carefree handling also provides advantages for the aircraft and the designer. Earlier designs had to take account of the risk of a pilot inadvertently exceeding the limits; the aircraft structure had to include additional safety margins, which increased the mass of the aircraft and so reduced its performance. Similarly, the aerodynamic limits also included safety margins to allow for accidental mishandling and so restricted the amount of performance a pilot was allowed to squeeze from the aircraft. With carefree handling the need for these built-in safety margins is significantly reduced, allowing optimum performance of the aircraft and its systems.

Direct Voice Input [DVI] is a very simple concept: the pilot uses his/her voice to provide an input to an aircraft system in order to obtain an action or information from that system. The increment of aircraft capabilities and functionalities can dramatically increase pilot workload. Keeping pilot workload within acceptable margins in the main driver for next generation cockpit design. The Eurofighter Typhoon cockpit combines cutting edge Hands On Throttle And Stick (HOTAS) design with revolutionary DVI technology, providing the operator with an unmatched Voice, Throttle And Stick (VTAS) capability.

Emergency escape from the Eurofighter Typhoon is by the EF ejection system which incorporates the Martin Baker Mk.16A ejection seat - one of the world's most sophisticated ejection seats. As with the Eurofighter Typhoon itself, the seat is constructed of light alloys and advanced composite materials such as Carbon Fibre and has many advantages over previous seats. Ergonomics, safety and maintainability have been given a high priority in order to maximise safety and minimise the workload of ground crew.

The Head Equipment Assembly (HEA) comprises the aircrew helmet and all the sub-system elements needed to display a real world overlaid picture on the helmet visor. Aircraft systems provide target and flight information which the HEA can combine with its in-built night vision enhanced outside world image and project them together on to the helmet display visor, exactly overlaying the aircrew's outside world view by means of a high speed helmet tracking system.

The HEA provides a 24-hour, all-weather capability to track targets using the visor display, and designate them for attack using the microphone to communicate via the aircraft Direct Voice Input (DVI). Information is displayed wherever aircrew look as the HEA includes a high-speed optical tracking system to determine which way the helmet is pointing. This allows all displayed information to exactly overlay the real world view aircrew have through their visor.

Aircrew Equipment Assembly (AEA) performs a diverse and complex task. It must protect the pilot from 'g' forces, at extremely high altitudes where there is little oxygen, while also keeping the pilot safe during the trauma of ejection, yet still suitably prepared to survive on land or sea or in enemy territory. Designed as an integral part of the weapon system, the Eurofighter Typhoon AEA is the most advanced in the world, allowing the pilot to operate the aircraft comfortably and with maximum efficiency.

At high 'g' levels, everything in the human body becomes heavier, even the pilot's blood which tends to migrate to the feet leaving little in the brain. In extreme cases, usually associated with rapid applications of high 'g' levels, this loss of blood pressure in the brain causes unconsciousness, called G-LOC (g-induced Loss of Consciousness).

Traditionally these problems were countered by anti-'g' trousers which inflated and squeezed the pilot's legs as 'g' was increased, maintaining blood pressure to the brain. The Eurofighter Typhoon is capable of highly agile manoeuvres which leads to the rapid onset of G. To counter this, the pilot is equipped with "Full Coverage Anti-'g' Trousers", combined with "Pressure Breathing under G" and a Chest Counter Pressure Garment (CCPG). As 'g' increases, the Full Coverage Anti-G Trousers, including bladders in the pilot's boots, inflate to raise the lower-body pressure that stops the blood from pooling. At the same time, pressurized oxygen is delivered to the mask and balanced by an equal pressure in the pilot's CCPG. This has the result of increasing upper-body pressure to ensure the brain continues to receive an adequate supply of oxygenated blood from the heart, so sustaining the pilot's mental faculties.

BAE Systems began flight trials of the Phase 2 Enhancements (P2E) package for the Eurofighter Typhoon in mid-2015. The P2E is the latest in a number of capability enhancements that are being rolled out for the international Typhoon fleet. The earlier P1E(A) and P1E(B) upgrades laid the foundations for the ongoing development work, and afforded the jet a 'swing-role' air-to-air and air-to-surface capability. With P1E in service with the operators (in the United Kingdom it was introduced under the Interim Force 2015 capability effort), BAE Systems was under contract to deliver P2E.

P2E, which forms part of the UK's wider-Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) 2018 capability set, comprises integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), and the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile. This phase also includes additional cockpit interface enhancements. P2E will give the Typhoon the long stick of Meteor and the deep strike of Storm Shadow.

By 2015 the active electronically scanned array (AESA) E-Scan radar was in its Extended Assessment Phase (EAP), with an integration contract having been signed in late 2014. Eurofighter partner nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK agreed in November 2014 to complete the development and integration of the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the Typhoon.

Announced following a four-nation ministerial meeting held at Selex ES’s Scotland site in Edinburgh on 19 November, the development would lead to the completion of work on the Euroradar consortium’s Captor E-Scan. Approval of the €1 billion ($1.2 billion) deal via the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency follows an in-principle agreement linked to a “Radar 1+” configuration announced by the parties at the Farnborough air show in July 2014.

The addition of fuselage strakes and leading-edge root extensions and other more minor changes to an Airbus test aircraft resulted in improved lift, angle of attack and roll rate capabilities compared with the standard aircraft. Flight tests of a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter sporting several aerodynamic modifications had greatly improved the aircraft's agility and weapons-carrying capabilities - angle of attack values around 45 percent greater than on the standard aircraft, and roll rates up to 100 percent higher.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2015 18:30:19 ZULU