Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine multi-role canard-delta fighter
aircraft, very similar to the US-German Rockwell-MBB X-31 prototype
and designed and built by a consortium of European nations formed in
1983.The initial members were the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy,
and Spain. In 1985 France withdrew in favour of its own Avions de Combat
Expérimentaux (ACX) project (which later became the Dassault
Initial hardware requirements were as follows: UK 250, Germany 250,
Italy 165, and Spain 100. Production work share was divided among the
countries proportionally to procurement: British Aerospace (33%), Daimler-Benz
(33%), Aeritalia (21%), and Spain's CASA (13%).
Over the next five years, design work continued, aided by data from
the British Aerospace EAP prototype which had first flown in August,
1986. The maiden flight of the Typhoon prototype took place on March
27, 1994 (then just known as the Eurofighter EF 2000). Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm
chief test pilot Peter Weger took the prototype on a test flight around
Bavaria. The 1990s saw significant arguments over work share, the specification
of the aircraft and even participation in the project.
When the final production contract was signed, revised procurement totals
were as follows: UK 232, Germany 180, Italy 121, and Spain 87. Production
was again allotted according to procurement: British Aerospace (37%),
DASA (29%), Aeritalia (19.5%), and CASA (14%).
is now the responsibility of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, based in
Munich and wholly owned by BAE SYSTEMS (formerly British Aerospace)
in the UK, Alenia Aerospazio in Italy, and the EADS Deutschland Aerospace
Group (formerly DaimlerChrysler, in conjunction with Deutsche Aerospace
AG) and EADS Spain (formerly CASA).
On July 2, 2002 the Austrian government announced the decision to buy
the Typhoon as its new air defence aircraft. The contract was not signed
at that time, however, due to floods, an election, and political controversy.
The purchase of 18 Typhoons was finalized on July 1, 2003. The cost
was €1,959,000,000 and included 18 aircraft, training for pilots
and ground crew, logistics, maintenance, and a simulator. The full,
"fly-away" price of a single Typhoon works out to €62,900,000.
The project has been named and renamed a number of times since its inception,
having been known as EFA (European Fighter Aircraft), Eurofighter, EF2000
(Eurofighter 2000), and most recently Typhoon.
Despite many delays and controversies over cost, the Typhoon is now
in series production. In British service, the aircraft is supposed to
replace the Tornado F3 and the Jaguar GR3A.
The Tornados will be replaced from 2006-2010, and the Jaguars from 2010-2014.
Initial deliveries of the Typhoon to the RAF have begun. The first unit
to form was an Operational Evaluation Unit, No. 17 Sqn in 2003 followed
by the Operational Conversion Unit, 29 Sqn at BAE Warton in 2004. The
aircraft are expected to move to RAF Coningsby in 2005. The initial
designations for the RAF aircraft are T1 for the two seater trainer,
and F2 for the single seater operational fighter.
An extensive overseas sales effort has so far yielded an order from
Greece for 60 aircraft, and an order from Austria for 18 units. Norway
has also expressed interest, but has yet to buy any Eurofighters. Other
countries expressing interest include South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Saudi
Arabia and Turkey.
The Typhoon could possibly meet the requirements of the UK's Future
Offensive Air System programme which is seeking to replace the deep-strike
capability provided by the Tornado GR4. If selected the Typhoon would
likely be modified for internal weapons carriage and increased internal
The Typhoon's combat performance, particularly compared to the upcoming
F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 fighters under development in the United States
and the Dassault Rafale developed in France, has been the subject of
some speculation. While making a complete assessment is impossible on
publicly available information, there is a study by DERA comparing the
Typhoon with other contemporary fighters.
Whilst the Typhoon lacks the all-aspect stealth technology of the F/A-22,
the design does incorporate many low-observable features resulting in
a much smaller radar cross-section than earlier fighters. It is also
capable of sustained supersonic cruise without using afterburners. The
F-22 is the only other fighter with supercruise capabilities.
According to EADS, the maximum speed possible without reheat is Mach
1.5 (although this drops to Mach 1.3 with an air-to-air weapons load).
As German newspapers reported in 2004, the few Eurofighters in service
with the Luftwaffe did not meet specifications at that time. Due to
technical difficulties, the aircraft are only allowed to take off without
cannon ammunition and at moderate temperatures. However it is important
to note that early aircraft are delivered at a baseline state with capability
to be increased incrementally, indeed BAE has stated that the capability
of the aircraft will increase at a faster rate than the training of