The first production aircraft flew in 2003,
and delivery of the first aircraft started during early 2004. The
Typhoon replaced the Tornado F3 and the Jaguar in RAF Service. It is planned that
the Typhoon front-line will comprise seven squadrons, of which four will
be primarily Air Defence, two Swing-role, and one Offensive Support, covering
a full range of Combat Air Operations.
The Typhoon (formerly EFA – European Fighter
Aircraft) is a single seat, STOL capable aircraft optimised for air
superiority/air defence and ground attack roles. Germany, Italy and
Spain are UK partners in the most costly European collaboration
programme to date.
The air forces of the four countries have
ordered a total of 571 Eurofighters (UK 160, Germany 143, Italy 96, and Spain
73). The UK is
to receive its aircraft in 3 x Tranches. Tranche 1 - 53 aircraft (mainly
air defence aircraft with some multi-role towards the end of the
tranche). Tranche 2 - 67 aircraft (mainly air defence aircraft with an
enhanced air-to-surface capability scheduled to be integrated on Tranche
2 aircraft from 2012). Tranche 3 - 40 aircraft. Export orders have been
received for Austra 15, Oman 12 and Saudi Arabia 72.
Typhoon is a fifth-generation combat aircraft with fully digital,
integrated aircraft, avionics and weapon systems. Typhoon is designed to
perform at least five air missions: air superiority, air interdiction,
Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD), Close Air Support (CAS) and
The aircraft is designed to carry 6 x medium-range and 2 x short-range
air-to-air missiles. The aircraft has 13 x store stations and an
internal gun fitted on the starboard side.
A range of air-to-ground
weapons can be carried, including the new Storm Shadow CASOM, Brimstone
anti-armour weapon, and the future Precision Guided Bomb (PGB). No
modifications will be necessary to carry "smart" weapons and
can carry external fuel pods. The Captor radar is a collaboration
European design. Other sensors include the Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST)
system. The Defensive Aids Sub System (DASS) equipment is carried in 2 x
wing pods that are an integral part of the wing. The datalink is
provided by the Multiple Image Data System (MIDS). If required, the aircraft will be
able to operate from a 500 metre strip.
The latest estimated cost of the RAF Typhoon
programme was some £17.6 billion ( demonstration and manufacture) -
making it the most expensive weapon system yet produced for the UK Armed
Forces. A rough unit cost estimate is £110 million (demonstration and
manufacture divided by 160 aircraft). These figures do not include
estimates of the through-life support costs. The cost of flying a
Typhoon for one hour is believed to be in the region of £3,875.
In 2011, the RAF deployed 10 x Typhoon
aircraft to its base in Italy for operations in Libya, and achieved
4,500 flying hours without an engine change. The aircraft operated in
its air-to-air role and for the first time attacked ground targets using
laser-guided Paveway bombs. Some sources suggest that 561 Typhoon
missions were flown over a six month period (average 93 missions per
month) and that 209 air-to-ground weapons were released.
There has been much discussion regarding the quality and performance of
this aircraft. In 2006 a United States Air Force General who, fresh from
an exhilarating first flight in Typhoon and, naturally, quite excited,
was heard to say, "This is the best fast jet in the world".
Typhoon is due to be replaced in late 2030s
and the MoD is expected to decide what mix of manned and unmanned
aircraft will replace its Typhoons sometime between 2015 and 2020.