Typhoon aircraft

How The Typhoon Is Being Made Future-Ready

Typhoon aircraft

The RAF's Typhoon is to be significantly upgraded as part of a £2 billion investment over the next decade, but what will be changing about the fighter jet?

The investment is being made as part of the Combat Air Strategy, but the aircraft itself could eventually be replaced by another product of the Strategy - the Tempest concept fighter unveiled on Monday.

The Typhoon is currently responsible for Quick Reaction Alert across almost half of Europe, and Britain aims to keep it in service up until the middle of the 21st century.

Upgrades to the fighter jet will include more powerful engines, more interactive cockpits and helmets for pilots and efforts to reduce the Typhoon's signature, making it harder to detect.

There are also more than 500 requirements from the different user nations in terms of weapons they would like fitting to the aircraft.

How the Typhoon will be upgraded to prolong its service.
How the Typhoon will be upgraded to prolong its service.

More currently, the Typhoon is undergoing upgrades to succeed the RAF's Tornado GR4 which is due to go out of service by March 2019.

New weapons such as the Meteor, Storm Shadow and Brimstone missiles are being fitted to the Typhoon under Project Centurion, which began in 2015.

It means there are less than six months left for the final phase of the Project, the Brimstone fitting, to be completed on every aircraft.

In April, Forces News was told that the upgrade programme for the Typhoon fighter jet was "on time and on budget".

Andy Flynn, Delivery Director at BAE Systems who are carrying out the upgrades, said: "Meteor is the long stick approach where you can use beyond visual range so it keeps the pilot in a safer position for air-to-air.

"But what we've also got is the Storm Shadow which is the strategic capability which the Tornado has got...so strategic air-to-ground capability.

"And what the Brimstone brings in now is, which you've seen again on the Tornados, it's that precision air-to-ground but also moving target capability as well."

Simulators, designed to mirror the exact same performance and cockpit of the Typhoon and its surroundings at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby, have been installed to give pilots a realistic feel of flying and firing missiles from the fighter jet.

Programme Manager at Typhoon Air Service, Richard Sharratt, said:

"It allows us to inject the malfunctions, which you can imagine with a real-life aircraft sortie, we wouldn't be able to do that.

"[We can] then monitor the pilot responses to those.

"To actually create some of the scenarios that have real training benefit is costly, difficult to organise from a logistics perspective, whereas we can create those scenarios on here [the simulator] quickly without the external assets you would acquire to operate those in the real world."

Brimstone missile fitted on a Tornado
A Brimstone fitted to the outgoing Tornado. (Image: Crown Copyright).

In the release of the new Combat Air Strategy, the Government announced that the UK's future military air power will be based around the upgraded Typhoon and the F-35B.

The manufacturer of the F-35 says they are now focusing on how the two fighter jets can work together as a joint force and allies from other nations.

"Working with that environment, it's all about coming together and meeting the mission," said F35 inter-operability manager at BAE Systems, Tony Hall.

"Each player has a role to play and it's about getting the best out of each player.

"With the F-35 and Typhoon, we've proved they're inter-operable, they have things called data links which are a little bit like text messaging between aircraft.

"They can pass all sorts of messages, from general situation messages to tasking and targeting messages and commander control messages from other platforms and they've worked very well together," Mr Hall explained.

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