Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000
The Eurofighter Typhoon (Typhoon) was originally conceived in the 1980s during the Cold War to perform mainly as an air-to-air fighter. It is highly capable in this role. Changing operational requirements meant the partners are upgrading Typhoon to become a full multi-role fighter aircraft that can perform both air defence and ground attack missions by 2018. Eurofighter is a single-seat, twin-engine, agile combat aircraft which will be used in the air-to-air, air-to-ground and tactical reconnaissance roles. The design of Eurofighter Typhoon was optimised for air dominance performance with high instantaneous and sustained turn rates, and specific excess power. Special emphasis has been placed on low wing loading, high thrust to weight ratio, excellent all round vision and carefree handling.
The design concept evolved after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the requirement, role and capabilities have been re-oriented to take in to account the changing requirements of the post cold war defence environment. Thanks to this design approach today the Typhoon is the most advanced multirole aircraft available on the market and the only one capable to respond to any air forces, requirements today and in the future. The aircraft has been designed with substantial growth capability and an established technology insertion programme to progressively enhance performance and reduce technology risk. By offering maximum operational effectiveness and flexibility; high survivability; extensive technological growth potential, as well as high reliability and maintainability with low operating costs, The Typhoon continues to be a cost-effective solution to meet the evolution of today’s requirements.
The high level of integration and sharing of information between the sub-systems gives the pilot an autonomous ability to assess rapidly the overall tactical situation and respond effectively to threats. This capacity for sensor fusion, in combination with a payload that features both air-to-air and air-to-surface capability, means that Eurofighter Typhoon is able to switch roles in-flight, making it the most effective swing-role weapon system available.
The use of Stealth technology is incorporated throughout the aircraft's basic design. The design of the Eurofighter Typhoon has not sacrificed flexibility of weapon carriage, maneuverability or performance to produce an inflexible stealth aircraft but it does contain a comprehensive suite of stealth features. Designing a fighter aircraft for stealth alone means making compromises to its aerodynamic and manoeuvre performance as well as restricting the number of weapons that aircraft can carry. The carriage of weapons on conventional under-wing pylons negates the stealth design. Although not of the classic angular, zigzag edged shape usually associated with stealth designs, Eurofighter Typhoon's shape balances aerodynamic requirements, such as low drag and high lift, with the need to minimise reflected radar energy in all directions, producing a signature which is smaller than that of all other fighter aircraft currently in production.
In September 1998 the Eurofighter was also designated the Typhoon, though this nomenclature is intended only for use in export markets outside Europe. Eurofighter remains the offical name in Europe, and Typhoon would not automatically be the EF2000s name with the four partner air forces when it entered service.
Eurofighter's air dominance supremacy and versatility as a multi-role combat aircraft is marked by its highly potent and comprehensive air-to-surface attack capability:
- Air Interdiction - capable of delivering a large payload over long distances, by day or night. Multiple, flexible sensors coupled with passive modes of delivery, and the retention of a full air-to-air fit ensure a formidable weapon system
- Close Air Support - ability to remain on task for long periods. Its sophisticated sensor suite allows close co-ordination with ground commanders, and the identification of individual targets
- Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) - the combination of pinpoint navigational accuracy, highly sophisticated onboard sensors and dedicated 'fire and forget' weapons, ensure effective targeting of enemy air defences
- Maritime Attack - dedicated radar modes and datalink enable Eurofighter Typhoon to operate autonomously, or as part of an offensive force
Eurofighter's high performance is matched by excellent all round vision and by sophisticated attack, identification and defence systems which include the ECR 90 long range radar and Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) system, advanced medium and short range air-to-air missiles and a comprehensive electronic warfare suite to enhance weapon system effectiveness and survivability. Eurofighter Typhoon is intentionally aerodynamically unstable to provide extremely high levels of agility, reduced drag and enhanced lift. The unstable design cannot be flown by conventional means and the pilot controls the aircraft via a computerised 'fly by wire' system.
The Eurojet EJ200 military turbofan was designed specifically to match Eurofighter Typhoon's mission requirements. The overall design ensures a small lightweight engine with the thrust and strength to match the typically on demand reheat temperatures generated during combat. The EJ200 engine combines high thrust with low fuel consumption. To reduce ownership cost over Eurofighter Typhoon's in-service life of 25 years or 6,000 flying hours, and to ensure maximum availability, the important areas of Reliability, Maintainability and Testability have been given equal priority to performance and flight safety.
In March 2011, Typhoon aircraft were deployed overseas for the first time on contingent operations in support of the coalition plan to enforce United Nations Resolution 1973 (Libya). Following Typhoon’s first overseas contingent operational deployment in March 2011 on Operation ELLAMY, it was used initially in an air defence role and then as a ground attack aircraft against targets varying from tactical to strategic. The aircraft consistently demonstrated exceptional levels of reliability, performance, accuracy and overall cost-effectiveness over and above the MoD’s very high expectations. Typhoon aircraft deployed on Operation ELLAMY returned to the UK in September 2011.
In September 2014 Germany suspended the remaining 32 Eurofighter deliveries, pending resolution of a manufacturing defect and negotiations concerning what to do about it. Typhoon combat plane deliveries to Germany were put on hold following the discovery of a construction flaw in fuselage assemblies made by BAE Systems Plc. Germany also sharply cut the estimated number of safe flying hours in each of their 108 delivered to date. Eurofighter temporarily halved the Typhoon’s permitted life-cycle to 1,500 hours as a precaution.
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