For them the challenges involved in getting to this stage were significant, not least because the programme developed the most up-to-date configuration in Eurofighter history.
“The aircraft has a new suite of capabilities, and the integration challenges were huge,” says Maurizio. “We created a new block (standard) clearance; we introduced a new E-Scan radar for the first time, and we updated the avionics configuration to the latest standard.”
Given the ultimate goal, the programme represented a huge engineering challenge. One that involved all the disciplines that complete the big picture — from the avionics, flight control systems and through to the integration of the new stores. The work touched every single discipline involved in the Eurofighter programme.
CREATING A NEW BASELINE
While the programme headlines have focused on the new customer Kuwait, Maurizio points out that it is not a pure export programme. It is qualified and certified under the Eurofighter four-nation umbrella (Italy, Germany, the UK and Spain) because P3Eb (the formal name of the programme) is a NETMA contract.
He says this new standard will form the baseline for the core nation programme. “We have now established a weapons system capability and that is a key first step in the Eurofighter 10 Year Plan. All future programmes will use this as a baseline for introducing the new capabilities. Indeed, even as we were delivering the initial aircraft, we were also working to progress future clearances to update the weapons system capabilities for the customer. So, the show goes on.”
Initially, the pandemic working restrictions threatened to hamper the programme’s smooth running. However, the team were able to turn it to their advantage by introducing daily fast-paced progress meetings.
These ‘stand-up’ calls achieved three main goals. One, they ensured stakeholders had up-to-date awareness of the programme status. Given the complexity of the programme, it was impossible to manage without these daily calls. Two, the team gained full commitment from stakeholders during the calls and were able to immediately address any emerging issues. Three, it led to the prompt execution of all joint decisions.
As the delivery team included Eurofighter, the Eurofighter Partner Companies — Leonardo, Airbus Germany, BAE Systems and Airbus Spain — as well as NETMA, it led to an approach which broke down boundaries across nations, companies and cultures.
The team is looking forward to building on the foundations it has created. Says Maurizio. “We are not at the end of a journey, we are at the beginning of a new era! We have to ensure that the capabilities we have developed, are cleared, certified and effective and that the customer is satisfied. The motivation of the team is high and, the approach that we have implemented, represents a new way forward to ensure our future objectives are met."
Picture credit: Alessandro Maggia