LE BOURGET, France — The Eurofighter Typhoon is in line for significant upgrades of its weapons, with firing tests of MBDA's Brimstone missile from the aircraft marking the beginning of that process, according to industry officials.
If the integration goes well, the missile is slated to be the aircraft's go-to weapon for precision ground strikes, said Rob Thornley, a sales and business development executive with MBDA.
"It's an exciting time in the program," he told reporters at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday. That is because the collection of new weapons in line for the jet has a way of "bringing the partner nations closer together," Thornley said.
According to Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH spokesman Adam Morrison, the first firing of a Brimstone missile is "imminent," with nine of the weapons scheduled to be launched over the summer as part of the test regimen.
Next year, with testing complete, formal evaluation by the government customers can begin, he added.
While the United Kingdom will be the first to employ the missile on its Eurofighter Typhoon jets in 2018, other countries using it are expected to follow suit later.
Germany, the U.K., Italy and Spain are considered partner nations in the program. Austria, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait are customer nations.
In addition to the Brimstone for close-air support missions, MBDA is outfitting the jet with the Meteor missile for "air dominance," the Storm Shadow missile for deep strike, the SPEAR for stand-off strike and the Marte ER weapon against ships, according to a briefing slide shown to reporters.
Raffael Klaschka, head of marketing at Eurofighter GmbH, said the jet saw the "busiest" year so far, given its role in Operation Shader, the British contribution to the counter-ISIL fight and air-policing operations in the Baltic states.