The Kuwait aircraft – The most advanced Eurofighter ever
Kuwait’s Eurofighter Typhoons will be the most advanced of the type produced so far, with a package of capabilities on top of the previous enhancement programmes such as the Captor-E E-Scan radar and several novelties in the weapon system that will make the Kuwait Air Force at the front-line of the fighter technology when the aircraft will enter into service.
The contract is a complex one and requires such capabilities to be delivered into two subsequent releases, the first to be part of the aircraft at its entry into service and the second 24 months after.
Giancarlo Mezzanatto, Eurofighter Programme Unit Vice President of the Leonardo Aircraft Division explains:
The capability packages granted to Kuwait will include the integration of Storm Shadow and Brimstone and other air-to-surface weapons. These features enrich the multi-role characteristics of the aircraft and enhance the weapon system in a role in which the aircraft is excelling since 2011 with the operations over Libya and now Syria and Iraq.
“Moreover this configuration foresees the integration of a new advanced laser designator pod (the Lockheed Martin Sniper) that will expand Eurofighter portfolio of cleared laser designator pods, the introduction of the DRS-Cubic ACMI P5 combat training pod, an enhanced navigation aid (VOR) and the E-Scan radar CAPTOR with its antenna repositioner.”
The Typhoon Captor-E provides significantly more power than most competing systems. Combined with the fighter's large nose aperture and the unique ability to move the radar antenna, the Typhoon has a field of view of 200 degrees and the flight tests are confirming the discriminating advantages this will bring.
“This new radar, developed and produced by the Euroradar consortium, which is led by Leonardo, underpins the Typhoon’s current and future capability evolution.
“As far as the overall package is concerned, today we are well into the development phase. The Avionic System design has been completed and we are currently designing and coding the software”.
Production of the Eurofighter Typhoon for Kuwait
Soon after the contract signature, the production activities have begun in order to comply with the contract and the Customer expectations. Long Lead Time items procurement has been immediately activated and the Supply Chain has been mobilized.
“Since the second half of 2016 the production activities started with details manufacturing – Says Mezzanatto - These activities are in line with the baseline plan and in some cases even ahead of schedule.
These activities are in line with the baseline plan and in some cases even ahead of schedule.
“The first left hand wing at Leonardo and right hand wing at Airbus Defence & Space in Spain have already completed the manufacturing of the wing skins in composite materials and are going to start the assembly phase before the end of this year.
“The first rear fuselage section is going to start the “Stage 2” assembly phase at Leonardo in early 2018 while the “Stage 1” assembly phase is already running in BAE Systems for the first 5 aircraft.
“The center fuselage section, produced by Airbus Defence & Space in Germany, will start the assembly in the first half of 2018 having already commenced the “pre-assy” phase according to the plan.
“The UK Eurofighter Partner Company BAE Systems has begun the assembly of the front fuselage sections and today more than 10 front fuselages are in production at different stages of progress. The first front fuselage section is now ready to start the equipping phase.
Everything goes on towards the start of the final assembly of the first aircraft on time thanks to the expertise, the effort and the passion of all teams: EPCs, the Kuwait Integrated Programme Team in Eurofighter and Prime Contractor Organisation (PCO).
Infrastructures for Kuwait MOB
The activities to establish infrastructures in Kuwait to operate the aircraft are also proceeding according to the plans. The detail design has already been completed with the finalization of all data packages. The construction activities have started in August this year.
The Eurofighter team is also working intensely on the set-up of the logistic services to be ready for the logistic support date a few months before the delivery of the first aircraft. Spares and Ground Support Equipment are being ordered according to the Eurofighter procurement route and all logistic functions are working according to the support plan which has been established. All logistic services are targeted to assure the full operational availability of the fleet during the in-service phase in Kuwait.
With the Kuwaiti contract Leonardo and Eurofighter have well initiated a long journey which will lead to the delivery of the first aircraft in 2020. “The programme is challenging for the state-of-the art capabilities – Says Mezzanatto - but on our side there are motivation and commitment of the teams through all the Supply Chain. This, together with the cooperation of the Italian Air Force and of the Kuwait customer, will be the key factor for the Eurofighter success”.
The Kuwait Contract
On 5th of April 2016 a contract between the Ministry of Defence of the State of Kuwait and the Leonardo Aircraft Division (acting as Prime Contractor Organisation) was signed to supply 28 Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role fighter aircraft. The delivery of the aircraft will start in 2020 and will be completed in 2023 making Kuwait the aircraft’s eight customer.
The agreement with the Kuwait MoD also includes services to operate the Eurofighter fleet at its best such as the design and construction of the infrastructures at the Al-Salem Air Base and the initial support services for three years (with an option for a further five).
This includes the supply of equipment and a suite of training devices to establish a pilot Operational Conversion Unit in Kuwait.
The contract came a few months after the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Kuwait MoD and the Italian MoD.
This memorandum between the two governments not only defines the scope of the cooperation between the two countries on the Typhoon project, including training of pilots and ground crew of the Kuwait Air Force, but also establishes the G2G framework of the contract.
As part of this agreement a Joint International Program Office (JIPO) has been established in Rome where Italian and Kuwaiti officers are working together to manage the contract from the customer perspective.
Immediately after the contract signature, teams were mobilised in Leonardo, as Prime Contractor Organization, in Eurofighter and in the other Partner Companies and all the supply chain has been activated.
In particular a multi-national Integrated Product Team has been established at the Eurofighter GmbH facilities with all disciplines co-located and working together to manage and carry out the development and production activities of the contract involving all the Eurofighter Partner Companies. This integrated approach and the passion and commitment of the team is crucial for the success of the programme.