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With a 10-Year Plan taking shape Eurofighter is entering a crucial phase which will keep it operationally relevant into the 2060s. ANDREA THOMPSON, Chair of the Eurofighter Supervisory Board, and Managing Director of the Europe & International business at BAE Systems, believes the future is bright.

This is a pivotal moment for Eurofighter. Today our partners are mapping out the future capability journey, and in particular the Long Term Evolution (LTE) that underpins the future development of the weapon system and P4E which will ensure the E-Scan radar can reach its full operational capability.

The groundwork is complete. Last year, Eurofighter laid out a 10-year plan with the core nations, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom and their respective industry partners, which describes the capability journey. Essentially, the first five years are well defined and include on-contract programmes. 

The focus now is on crystalising the final five years of the plan and that comprises the technologies and capabilities which will ensure Typhoon’s role as the backbone of air defence across the world.

We're now in the process of defining specific national requirements and timescales harmonising these and looking at the sequencing for this new capability to be delivered to meet the needs of our customers. There is a key window between 2028 and 2032 for the delivery of the next phase of capability upgrades, known as P4E. This is a sweet spot where the four Eurofighter core nations require pieces of, or all the capability, during that period.

Beyond that comes LTE with a focus on longer term development of capability. This is about supporting Typhoon to ensure it remains operationally relevant to 2060 and beyond. We're in the Study Definition Phase, finalising options for the nations. Later this year, we expect the 10-year plan to be finalised.

Typhoon in the future battlespace

The 10-year plan is important because we know that Typhoon will be flying for decades and must be cutting edge throughout. But it also has to be cutting edge in terms of interoperability with other platforms as well, whether its Tempest, F-35, or the French-German SCAF. 

BAE Systems is no different to other businesses, we need to ensure we invest where we are going to get maximum benefit. So, the technology streams we are developing that are intended for FCAS/Tempest will, wherever possible, be developed and demonstrated on Typhoon. 

We are having discussions with our Eurofighter customers and partners about the priorities and the technologies are and looking at common technologies that will support both platforms and how we best optimise them.

Across the Eurofighter consortium we are all very focussed on affordability and continuously evaluating our value proposition. We also recognise that we need to keep driving down our costs.

Part of this is the agile way we are looking at implementing any new capability. Traditionally, we've delivered big blocks of capability improvement every couple of years. The future will see smaller blocks of capability that come more frequently. Not only will we deliver new capability more often but doing it that way allows us to test and drive out costs more efficiently.

It’s about constantly improving by focussing on those key technologies that link into Tempest or SCAF. That way you only invest once which is the key to getting the best value. Spend once, use many times.

We have developed real examples on demonstration rigs. These are tangible technologies, and we are working with our partners to see how we can optimise them for use within Eurofighter and off onto the future platforms.

This all feeds into future market opportunities for Typhoon too. When people start to understand the capability that's coming — when they see some of the things that are now on the demo rigs — it’s very exciting. That is certainly something we see reflected in the feedback we are getting from our customers.

A market full of opportunities

Following the Halcon deal in Spain for 20 new aircraft, there are certainly realistic opportunities to secure additional orders. When you look at the landscape and the possibilities like the Tornado Replacement in Germany, possible second buys from other nations and more aspirational activities too — you can quickly get to more than 100 potential new aircraft orders. 

Obviously, it takes a lot of work from everyone on the industry side and support from governments to be able to secure these deals, but it is something we are all striving for.

These opportunities are another reason why we need these capability programmes to be settled and we need to deliver in an agreed timeframe. 

The situation in Eastern Europe has already led many nations to re-evaluate their operational defence requirements and re-examine what they need in their portfolio. In this respect the capability Typhoon brings today — and will bring in the future — and our role is to ensure we deliver what our new and existing customers require.

However, whoever we talk to, we’ve got to be able to deliver a huge capability package for Typhoon. This includes the radars, the supporting software packages to enable the radar effects and a host of other capabilities. When you bring it all together, it’s a package for Typhoon that delivers the next significant step up in capability.

That's what core nations and potential export campaigns are demanding to see from Eurofighter. And that is what we firmly believe needs to be delivered for Eurofighter.

Eurofighter: Europe’s most successful defence project

We know we can deliver because we’ve done it before. Eurofighter represents the best of four nations coming together — the best technologies, the best intellect, and the best resource packages. You've got to be impressed with the way the core nations have come together and collaborated to produce what I believe is the world’s best multirole aircraft.

It's proven itself over time and the platform is just hitting its stride. We continue to push the boundaries of what this platform can do, and we're absolutely in it for the long haul. We have been in this for many years now and will continue into the future.