Military Aerospace Technology Today is: Oct 10, 2007
Volume: 6  Issue: 1
Published: Feb 21, 2007

Download Who's Who in DISA 2007

Download 2007 VETS GWAC Catalog

Download DISA 2007 Contracts Guide

Download PEO-EIS 2007 Catalog

Military Aerospace Technology Online Archives

This article was Originally Published on Aug 01, 2002 in Volume: 1  Issue: 4

Eurofighter Arrives With JSF in the Mirror

Consortium looks beyond European sales, at first EF-2000s and Typhons reach core European Air Forces.

By E.W. Hooten

Print this Article
Send a Letter to the Editor

The soap opera of Eurofighter development will have a plot upswing this summer when four core European air forces - those of Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom - receive their first aircraft.

Yet while an operational life of 6,000 hours or 25 years has always been eyed, the Eurofighter EF-2000 (European designation) or Typhoon (British and export designation) remains a long way from its full potential. And to make matters worse, a rolling enhancement program, designed to address any deficiencies, faces formidable export market competition from the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Conceived as a five-nation response to a draft 1983 study by the countries' combined military staffs (France withdrew to develop its own Rafale fighter solution in 1985), the definitive requirement four years later called for a multirole fighter with an air-to-air emphasis. The Cold War's end delayed the program but production finally ensued in December 1997 - with the British, Germans, Italians, and Spanish getting 37 percent, 30 percent, 19 percent, and 14 percent of the work share respectively. Only minor changes were made in this first production run, known by the French term, Tranche 1.

Then from April 5 through April 15, 2002, the first three Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) - test aircraft built to production standards - were flown to complement seven Development Aircraft (DA) which have been used for weapons system development and evaluation since 1994.

By mid-April 2002, DA prototypes had flown nearly 2,000 sorties and 1,700 hours - overlapping the IPA test vehicles that flew 1,516 sorties by that time - to mark Eurofighter's passage of its Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and Full Operational Capability (FOC) milestones. Included in these milestones were tests of Eurofighter's radar and weapons control systems as well as successful launches of its AIM-9L Sidewinder, Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM), and AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). In the AMRAAM test, the weapons system destroyed a Mirach drone head-on at more than 19 nautical miles distance.

The "carefree" handling system, which allows the pilot to focus on the combat situation, is fully developed, but additional work continues on Eurofighter's combat sub-systems, such as its  Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS).

Eurofighter's Growing Pains

Typhoon is currently a single-seat, air-to-air superiority aircraft - supported by a fully operational two-seat trainer - for close- and beyond-visual-range combat, with limited air-to-surface capability. It will, however, migrate to a full "swing-role" air-to-ground threat, and include close air support, counter-air interdiction, and maritime attack in its battle package.

The unloaded weight is nearly 24,239 pounds, with a maximum take-off weight of 46,297 pounds, although on overload this expands to 50,706 pounds. It is powered by a pair of Eurojet EJ-200 two-spool turbofans with five-stage high-pressure and three-stage, low-pressure compressors and single-stage turbine with single crystal blades. Each engine delivers 13,490 pounds nominally and 20,250 pounds with afterburner. Test pilots have noted that, with its aerodynamically clean airframe, the Eurofighter is a very "hot ship" - while the EJ-200 already boasts a 15-percent guaranteed growth factor that might later be doubled.

Eurofighter's runway requirement is 2,300 feet, and in the air it has achieved Mach 2 with a service ceiling of 55,000 feet. Its vaunted agility has been demonstrated in 9g maneuvers. This capability is achieved through a combined canard/delta wing configuration and a full-authority, quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system with direct voice input (DVI) controls via a personalized cartridge inserted before each mission. The hardware is supported by Ada-language production software packages (PSP).

Heightened Senses

The sensor suite is a combination of the Euroradar (BAE Systems, EADS-Deutschland, ENOSA), Captor radar, the Eurofirst (FIAR, Thales Optronics, Tecnobit) PIRATE (Passive Infra-Red Airborne Tracking Equipment) electro-optical system and the Euro-DASS (BAE Systems, Elettronica, INDRA) Defensive Aircraft Survivability Suite (DASS). Captor is a pulse-Doppler sensor operating in I/J-band (8-20 GHz) with slotted waveguide antenna, which provides multimode air-search-and-track, single air target tracking, air-to-surface tracking/ranging, ground moving target indication and sea surface search capability. In the air-to-air mode it reportedly has a range in excess of 70 nautical miles.

PIRATE operates in the 8-12 micron frequency range and offers both infrared search and track against single and multiple targets. It also provides a forward-looking infrared capability for navigation and identification both of air and ground targets, the latter through thermal cueing. The DASS features a central computer that is fed by an integrated radar-band, wing-tip pod electronic support measures/electronic counter measures (ESM/ECM) system and missile approach and laser warning receivers using sensors on the fuselage and aerodynamic surfaces with supporting wing-mounted chaff/flare counter-measures system. All sensor data (including Link 16) are fused through the multifunction information distribution system (MIDS) to present the pilot with a comprehensive picture in head-up and helmet-mounted displays facilitating both situation and threat awareness.

Sensor fusion is part of the stealth technology philosophy adopted by Eurofighter that has sought low visibility through a small airframe in which 70 percent of the surface area contains carbon fiber composites to reduce the radar signature over a specific arc. Some radar-absorbent materials (RAM) are incorporated, but not in the quantities used in United States aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 JSF. RAM is expensive and still susceptible to the truism that creating a "hole in the sky" against one range of sensors exposes the aircraft to others. Eurofighter has also used shaping to reduce its infrared signature, a feature assisted by the EJ-200's ability to accelerate to - and maintain - supersonic speeds without afterburners.

Packing "Heat"

Eurofighter has 13 external stores stations; five under-fuselage - including four conformal positions for beyond-visual-range-air-to-air missiles - and four under each wing, including an optional wet station with 264-gallon tank. The normal under-wing load is 14,330 pounds or 17,637 pounds in overload condition. Internally, there is a Mauser 27mm cannon, as is used in the F-35. The combat radius - either in the air defense role with 10-minute loiter or a high-low-high, air-to-surface mission with three "smart" bombs, a designator pod and seven air-to-air missiles - is 750 nautical miles. Using day-and-night air-to-air refueling, DA 4 has flown the longest mission to date, 4 hours and 22 minutes.

Production will be by Germany's European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) Deutschland, by Spain's EADS-CASA, Italy's Alenia and the United Kingdom's BAE Systems. Each has prime responsibility for an element of the design; flight controls, structures, utility controls and avionics respectively, as well as producing aircraft sections. EADS-D is responsible for the center fuselage, EADS-CASA the starboard wing, rear fuselage and leading edge slats, Alenia the port wing and outer flaperons and BAE Systems the front fuselage, fin and inner flaperons.

The airframe elements, with some avionics and all the wiring and pipes, will be assembled at four sites: Caselle, Italy; Getafe, Spain; Manching, Germany; and Warton, England, with each country not only assembling its own country's aircraft but also supporting the others. Given the uniformity of the design, it is surprising that final assembly of the airframe and installation of both engines and avionics will be done in three different ways in order to establish the most cost-effective method especially for export aircraft.

Caselle and Manching will use the traditional flow method with aircraft being physically moved through the production facility as each stage of construction is completed. EADS-CASA and BAE Systems felt this system was vulnerable if key components are delayed, creating a slowdown along the line. Instead, the major airframe sections will go to an automated alignment facility, where they will be married using numerically controlled jacks integrated with laser tracker measurement equipment.

Installation of the engines and avionics, as well as initial testing, will be at dedicated, ergonomically designed assembly bays that meet exacting new standards for workplace health and safety. The Getafe site actually will include a flow-production element, with the airframe emerging from separate facilities for fuselage and wing assembly, then being transferred to an electrical check facility before reaching the assembly bay.

The four core nations want 620 aircraft with options on another 90. Production will be in three fixed-price tranches, sub-divided into blocks and for the core customers is accelerating to reach one a week by 2005 until 2013, with the last appearing in 2018. The Eurofighters which enter service this year will have an IOC basic air defense capability lacking the Link 16-capable MIDS and DVI and with limited ESM/ECM. The full air defense capability will have a complete DASS, MIDS, and DVI while the "swing role" FOC will add Pirate, full sensor fusion, enhanced DASS (probably with towed decoy) followed by Extended Operational Capability (EOC).

Eurofighter GmbH already is seeking customers outside the European core for the Typhoon. Greece has already selected Typhoon with a requirement for 60 and options on 30 and the consortium proposed the aircraft to Korea although this was mostly to gain experience with the real competition between F-15K and the Eurofighter's European rival, the Dassault Rafale, which ultimately lost that competition to Boeing.

Marketing Maneuvers

The corporate marketing strategy to 2010 may be divided into NATO and non-NATO air forces, and while Rafale is one competitor, the other is the F-35A. The NATO policy is aimed at the European F-16 club with active promotion, not only in Greece but also in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. But the armed forces in all but Greece and Belgium have opted for JSF although there is no parliamentary/governmental approval.

The arguments for JSF are its  interoperability with the U.S. Air Force and the industrial and unit cost benefits of a 6,000-aircraft program. But the 1,000-aircraft (or more) Eurofighter program has its own economic offsets and there is strong political support for European defense programs. While the unit cost of the U.S. Air Force F-35A has been reported at a favorable $40 million compared with $51 million to $58 million for Eurofighter, proposed moves to cut U.S. Navy/Marine Corps procurement would undoubtedly drive up JSF costs.

This last argument also applies outside NATO with potential customers in the 2010 timeframe, including Austria, Australia and Singapore. Price - as rigid as Jell-O - and offset will be major factors, but as the F-16 sale to the United Arab Emirates demonstrated, customers will also wish to know how "sanitized" their aircraft will be compared to the mainline F-35A and how much access there will be to source software codes.

Eurofighter development means that export customers will be able to introduce much of their own software for "hard" and "soft" kill weapons.

Eurofighter will be a proven design by about 2010, while the F-35A will attain IOC with the U.S. Air Force only in the summer of 2012 and may not be available for export for a few years afterwards. It will be a larger aircraft, with a maximum take-off weight of 60,000 pounds, a maximum load of less than 13,000 pounds, a maximum level speed of Mach 1.6 and a combat radius in excess of 600 nautical miles.

The Lockheed Martin aircraft can carry much of its weapon load internally, unlike Eurofighter, making it a better "bomb truck," but as a strike aircraft its air-to-air performance may be inferior to its European competitor. Critics might argue that Eurofighter is little more than a short-range fighter with no strike capability. In fact, it is evolving to meet the initial customer requirements with a modular program to enhance its air-to-surface mission portfolio. British Chief of Defense Procurement Sir Robert Walmsley underscored this flexibility, saying Eurofighter is likely to remain with the Royal Air Force (RAF) for some 60 years.

Eurofighter: A Work In Progress

Eurofighter incremental changes and upgrades begin with FOC providing full operational clearance in both the air-to-air and air-to-surface roles with a PSP-3R adaptation for Tranche 2 standard hardware. This will be back-fitted into IOC aircraft, as will EOC upgrades, which include general improvements, such as 528-gallon fuel tanks, and new mission computers to enhance interoperability and functionality.

There will also be operational upgrades that currently are in the planning stage; EOC 1 is likely to include provision for Iris-T and AIM-120C-5 air-to-air missiles, and Enhanced Paveway or similar weapons - while EOC 2 introduces the European Meteor medium-range air-to-air missile and long-range air-to-surface missiles. This will allow Eurofighter to perform interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) and maritime attack roles as well as reconnaissance.

Tranche 3 improvements, also known as EF-2010, focus upon further improving survivability, range, precision attack, deployability and interoperability, with decisions anticipated by June 2003.

Proposals include upper fuselage conformal tanks to extend the combat radius to 1,500 nautical miles, while the EJ-200 engine will be improved rather than replaced by the EJ-230. The Eurofighter's idea is to improve overall performance and/or reduce life cycle costs through enhancement packages starting with 25% improvement in â??on wing' time, retrofitted into Tranche 2 aircraft. Thrust-vector technology is being examined to increase thrust and generally improve performance but no decisions have been made in this area.

Sensor improvements are also being planned. A modular improvement of the mechanically scanned Captor to electronic scanning is one idea which uses an improved digital signal processor in Tranche 2 and active phased array antenna in Tranche 3. But this will be a heavier sensor with handling software implications aggravated by the need to redesign the nose section. PIRATE improvements include enhancing air-to-surface and navigation capabilities, as well as adding a missile-warning function.

The improvements will further enhance Eurofighter's competitiveness in the export market making it a formidable opponent to JSF.  The contenders are gassed up and waiting for clearance on the flight line; and the hour is fast approaching when they will finally face each other in the wild blue yonder of defense sales.

To Top

Home | Archives | Events | Contact | Advertisers | Subscribe

Defense Consulting & Outsourcing  Military Advanced Education  Military Geospatial Technology  Military Information Technology  Military Logistics Forum  Military Medical Technology  Military Training Technology  Special Operations Technology

Web site by Foster Web Marketing

© 2007 Kerrigan Media International, Inc. All rights reserved. Kerrigan Media International, Inc. ("we," "us") provides publications, information, content, text and graphic material, and other products and services (all and/or any portion of which, are individually and collectively referred to as "KMI Publications"). KMI Publications also refers to web sites, production, processing and communications facilities whether owned, operated or provided by us ourselves or in conjunction with others pursuant to contractual arrangements. KMI Publications are for informational purposes only and your access, use, subscription to or display of any KMI Publications is subject to applicable U.S. law and regulation, as well as certain international treaties. You may access and use KMI Publications and download and print or create only one copy of content or the information in KMI Publications, solely for your own personal use. You may not republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute materials from any KMI Publications, without our prior written permission. Modification of or useof any KMI Publications for any other purpose is a violation of our copyright and other proprietary rights, and is strictly prohibited. All trademarks, service marks, and logos used on or in KMI Publications are either ours or are used with permission.