Eurofighter Typhoon. (Jamie Hunter)
LONDON — Eurofighter has signed an upgrade deal with the agency responsible for managing the Typhoon fast jet program on behalf of the four partner nations.
The package includes updates to the Captor mechanically scanned radar and the defensive aids subsystems (DASS) but does not cover the integration of weapons and an electronically scanned radar.
The company used the opening day of the Seoul aerospace and defense show in South Korea to announce it was going ahead with a raft of enhancements known as Evolution Package 2 (EP2).
Typhoon remains a contender to meet a South Korean requirement for a new fast jet after Seoul rejected the selection of the Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle which had emerged as the remaining bidder when Eurofighter and the Lockheed Martin F-35A failed to meet price requirements.
Ministry of Defence officials are reviewing the decision ahead of an expected restart of the competition.
Eurofighter declined to give a contract value for the EP2 deal with the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA,) which represents core customers Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Alberto Gutierrez, the Eurofighter CEO, said the EP2 represented a “significant milestone for what is known as the P2E program for the Typhoon.”
The Eurofighter consortium, owned by BAE, EADS and Finmeccanica, said the upgrades will be delivered by the end of 2015. The enhancements will be retrofitted to Tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons.
In a statement, Eurofighter said the deal would “pave the way for continuous capability enhancements of the Typhoon.”
Aside from the Captor and DASS improvements, other EP2 upgrades include enhancements of the Multifunction Information and Distribution System (MIDS) and the flight control and utility control systems.
EP2 is part of the wider Phase 2 enhancement program, which is set to include integration of weapons such as the Storm Shadow and Brimstone missiles, and the provision of an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar being readied for its first test flight on a Typhoon by sensor developer Selex ES.
Instrumented Production Aircraft 5 is scheduled to make the first flight with the AESA radar onboard early in 2014.
Eurofighter delivered a technical and financial offer to NETMA for development of the new AESA radar in November 2012, and at the request of the cash-strapped customers filed a revised bid at the end of January. Contract negotiations between the two sides continue.
A spokesman for Eurofighter said the radar remained on track to meet the requirements of current and potential customers.
Typhoon has been exported to Austria, Oman and Saudi Arabia and remains a contender for a further sale to the Saudis and new deals in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Malaysia and South Korea.
On Oct. 28, EADS said it had finalized Phase 1 Enhancement (P1E) flight tests from its Manching, Germany, site and the upgrade was on course for delivery by the end of the year.
P1E implements a number of improvements to air-to-surface and air-to-air capabilities and other systems, including fitting Mode 5 identification friend or foe equipment.
A development contract for the integration of the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile was signed in June.
Eventually, all Tranche 2 aircraft will go through the Phase 1 Enhancement program, covering new software architecture, enhanced multirole man-machine interface, integration of a new targeting pod, enhancements of the MIDS datalink, GPS navigation system, DASS, communications, improving network centricity and expanded weapon support, including Paveway IV and Enhanced GBU-16.
A second batch of enhancements was submitted during the Berlin Air Show this year. “Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E)” is targeted to be implemented by the end of 2014. It focuses on the introduction of enhanced weapons expected at this time, such as enhanced Storm Shadow, Taurus, supersonic delivery of Paveway IV weapons, Brimstone, small diameter bomb, AMRAAM C-5/7, and Meteor.
The Korea Times quotes Cassidian Senior Vice President P. Maute as saying that the Eurofighter Tranche 3 still has a chance to win in competition with the F-35. Arguing that stealth functions is only one element of a complete fighter aircraft, the F-35 cannot carry out all missions alone, he said, so a split purchase of F-35s and Eurofighters could be an interesting combination for South Korea.
“Stealth function means a low radar signature. It is something which does not resolve everything. Radar technology is developing, so there is a very high chance in just a few years, stealth functions could become completely obsolete because you cannot fool radar,” he added.