Eurofighter is already the most successful European defence project ever. But anyone who believes that Eurofighter has reached its peak could not be more mistaken — the truth is, as 2020 demonstrated, the best years are yet to come.
In November Germany announced it is replacing its existing Tranche 1 aircraft under the Quadriga programme. Under the deal, announced in the Bundestag in November, Germany has committed to 38 new Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft for the Luftwaffe. The aircraft will be built to the latest standard and will include the E-Scan radar Mk1. This news is a further boost for the Eurofighter programme, following the E-Scan radar retro-embodiment contracts for the Spanish and German Luftwaffe Typhoon fleets and the continuation of the development of E-Scan version Mk2 announced in the summer.
This agreement clearly demonstrates Germany’s ambitions to significantly advance the Luftwaffe capability and their trust and commitment to not only the Eurofighter programme, the aircraft and its capability, but also clearly supporting the European Defence industry. Germany is also looking to replace its Tornado fleet. I firmly believe that Eurofighter is the country’s best choice. We will be continuing to support the German nation with information to support their assessments and we look forward to entering detailed talks in due course on how this requirement can be satisfied.
However, the need for more aircraft to be manufactured doesn’t stop here. We also received a ‘Request for Quotation’ from the Spanish government to provide an offer to commence replacement of their F-18 fleet which are fast approaching the end of their life. Since the very beginning of Eurofighter, both Germany and Spain have shown great trust and commitment in the programme — and both will be part of our future.
EVALUATING THE EXPORT MARKET
While discussions with existing customers on augmenting their respective fleets continue, we have also successfully completed flight evaluations in Finland and Switzerland. These trials confirmed Typhoon’s strength from a capability point of view, and both of these potential customers have noted the comparatively small support foot-print directly contributing to more affordable operating cost.
Of course, whenever we take part in these global competitions, we are in a highly competitive environment, but the Eurofighter offering is strong — and by that I’m not purely thinking in terms of capability but also politically and importantly, credible industrial offerings underpinning a strong economic dimension.
Recognising the four-nation collaborative nature of the Eurofighter programme; from day one, the Eurofighter programme has built its solutions on the best balance between politics, sovereignty, budgets and operational capability. Eurofighter therefore is THE role model for European defence collaboration.
People try to compare us directly with other aircraft but that would be to ignore the fact that the Eurofighter programme is so much more. It forges political, industrial and operational relationships; our operators have more ownership of the asset and our air forces are much more connected. In short, there’s a whole Eurofighter eco-system that you are part of which has collaboration at its heart. These are the kind of things you simply don’t get if you buy something ‘off the peg’.
Of course, deals for new aircraft represent just one side of the equation — the other is capability. Here again we have a number of major enhancement programmes running. Eurofighter is already able to carry a very impressive array of air-to-air and air-to- ground weapons. In addition to this we will shortly be introducing our first E-scan variant into the Typhoon fleet. This will be one of the most powerful and capable air combat radars available on the market and will significantly enhance our weapon systems capability.
And in parallel, last year we announced a study of the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) of the aircraft to ensure it will continue to be part of the backbone of NATO air defences to 2060 and beyond. The LTE study is now taking shape, and we are entering into conversations with our customers about finalising a detailed programme of mission system enhancements. These will improve the aircraft’s processing capability, increase its agility to introduce new capability and enhance the operator interface using latest technologies.
All of this is being developed with the next generation air combat system in mind. Not only will Eurofighter be a technology maturation platform for the future fighter, it will also have to co-operate seamlessly with a next generation air combat solution. We aim to deliver the best possible air combat capability by harnessing the innovative technologies that will protect our nations while strengthening Europe’s future prosperity.
THE MATURING E-SCAN PICTURE
We have already made significant advances in the maturation of E-Scan. This will offer a step change in capability — with a class-leading wide field of regard offering significant benefits in both the air-to-air and air-to-surface domains. The large power and aperture will provide pilots with much enhanced coverage compared to other solutions.
We flew the first Kuwaiti production aircraft equipped with the entry into service standard of E-Scan and the newest P3Eb weapon system standard in December 2019 and completed a further series of test flights in March this year.
Our E-Scan development and test programme is already intense, and throughout 2020 there will be a number of technical maturity milestones to complete.
As well as forming the entry into service level for Kuwait and subsequently Qatar Air Forces, the E-Scan programme will also be the foundation for the early embodiment of the solution on Typhoon for the German and Spanish Air Forces.
COLLABORATION AT OUR HEART
Effective collaboration has been our bedrock and remains at the heart of what we are. Already the most successful European defence programme ever, Eurofighter is the benchmark for collaboration across the continent.
Our core nations all believe firmly the importance of a strong Europe in terms of defence and security and the Eurofighter Typhoon programme plays an important role in supporting this objective. All four nations have a strong commitment to NATO and see their defence and security relationships with European states, as critically important.
Yes, the Eurofighter programme delivers economic benefits to the core nations and industry, but it also forges political alliances — alliances which create mutual benefits and underpin the strength of Europe as a positive influencer globally, specifically on security.