Tag Archives: Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter Typhoon with conformal fuel tanks

Typhoon model with conformal fuel tanks in the BAE Systems wind tunnel

A Typhoon model fitted with conformal fuel tanks

CFTs (Conformal Fuel Tanks) have always been one of the features Eurofighter was thinking about since the Typhoon was pitched for the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) and UAE fighter deals.

It looks like BAE Systems has eventually started the testing that will help to accelerate the clearance process by assessing the aerodynamic characteristics of carrying two fuselage mounted conformal fuel tank at the company’s world class high speed wind tunnel facility in the UK.

Actually, a mock up Typhoon was already fitted with CFTs and showcased at several exhibitions and airshows around the world, including Al Ain, earlier this year, where photographer Luigi Sani took the image below.

Typhoon CFT Al Ain

Image credit: BAe Systems (Top); Luigi Sani (Bottom).

The Typhoon is not only getting the CFTs: testing has also started to integrate air-launched cruise missiles, like the Storm Shadow and the Taurus.

 

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The crazy story of the Nigerian Air Force C-130H Hercules’s flight to Cambridge in 2011

NAF arrival

The Nigerian C-130H-30 that had arrived at Cambridge in August 2011, was eventually air tested. Here is its weird story.

On Apr. 16, Nigerian Air Force C-130H-30, registration NAF918, conducted a test flight from Cambridge airport.

The air test came slightly less than three years after the aircraft had arrived on Aug. 28, 2011, from Lagos, Nigeria, where it had been dumped, out of use, for a period of 7-10 years.

When U.S. financed restoration program, the Hercules was flown to the UK for major overhaul with Marshalls Aerospace. But its ferry flight was a sort-of Odyssey as The Aviationist’s contributor Tony Lovelock, who took the photographs in this article, recalls.

“Since the aircraft was unable to pressurise, due to massive corrosion of the front windscreen frames, it was flown low level at 12,000 feet from Lagos to England, by pilots wearing helmets and oxygen masks,” Lovelock says.

“Radar and communication systems were also unserviceable, therefore navigation was based on road maps, and a hand held Satellite Navigation; radio communication with London Military, was ensured by a hand held Mobile phone.”

The radio failed as the aircraft was inside the French airspace. Mirage 2000s were scrambled to intercept and shadow the 30-year old cargo across the Channel and hand it over to the RAF Typhoons of the 11 Sqn QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) from Coningsby, which eventually escorted it until landing at Cambridge airport.

Upon arrival, the aircraft was met by dozens of Immigration Officers and Police, as someone had made a hoax telephone call, saying there were up to 50 Nigerians on board , who were trying to attempt an illegal entry into the UK.

“The aircraft, was immediately impounded and grounded, de fumigated and inspected for snakes, beetles and other non indigenous creatures that were to be found, were either removed, or killed, by Rentokill.”

Following inspection by Marshalls inspectors, work sheets were prepared and work eventually proceeded to return this aircraft to an airworthy condition. Twenty months later, having exceeded its anticipated financial budget many times, during what eventually became almost a complete rebuild, NAF918 finally departed Marshall Air field, Cambridge, runway 23 for its first Air Test at 17:30 LT, returning at 19:30, on Apr. 16, 2014.

The image below shows NAF918 as it prepares for the test flight on Apr. 16.

NAF918

The flight on Apr. 15 was cancelled due to an oil leak from number one engine, and electrical snags that had manifested on Tuesday but were fixed on Wednesday morning, just in time for the flight scheduled for later that day.

Overhaul works were originally expected to last only four months…

Image credit: Tony Lovelock

 

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Air-to-Air image of RAF Typhoon Display Jet’s first flight with newly painted tail

RAF Typhoon special tail

The newly painted tail of the RAF Typhoon Display jet, from 29 Reserve (R) Squadron (Sqn) flew for the first time and accompanied by a Typhoon in the original design.

Royal Air Force (RAF) Coningsby in Lincolnshire is the homebase of 29(R) Sqn, whose role is to train new pilots destinated to the Typhoon.

Also belonging to the Sqn is Eurofighter Typhoon Display Team and Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Noel Rees, 2014 display pilot. This year the aircraft sports a special tail designed by Adam Johnson of Adam Johnson Concepts and painted by Serco contractors based at RAF Coningsby.

The special tail was completed in four days and contains the squadrons eblem, the buzzard and its famous XXX.

Image credit: Crown Copyright

 

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Italy to axe more F-35s and one aircraft carrier (which appears on eBay)

F-35A LF

Italy’s new Government is considering another cut of its order of 90 F-35s. But the Spending Review is targeting Rome’s older aircraft carrier. Which has already appeared on eBay.

Although nothing has been decided yet, it’s hard to believe the current plan to buy 90 F-35 to replace the aging fleet of Tornado IDS, AMX (Italian Air Force) and AV-8B+ (Italian Navy) will survive the cuts already announced by the new Renzi cabinet.

Italy plans to save 3 billion Euro (4.18 billion USD) in defense savings over the next three years, money that will come from the sale of some barracks and military buildings, from a reduction of the personnel, and from cuts to some top spending programs, first of all the F-35, on which the government has so far committed to spend some 12 billion Euro.

Dealing with the F-35, the order will be “revised,” meaning that cuts are certain, considering the amount of attention and criticism that surround the program. But, it is almost impossible to predict the extent of the revision.

Some media outlets have foreseen a drastic cut to 45 planes, half of the current plan, and about one third of the initial requirement, set to 131 Joint Strike Fighters.

The center-left PD (Democratic Party) defense committee has just published a paper about the current state of Italy’s weapons systems, highlighting the need for a significant reduction on F-35 procurement, because:

  • the program does not guarantee industrial gains for Italian industry
  • is characterized by too much variability (in terms of cost)
  • current costs do not include armament
  • Italy will not be allowed to access core sensitive technology, an embargo which “determines a factor of operational dependency on American political-industrial instances

The 10-page paper (in Italian, can be downloaded here) envisages an Air Force with two front line combat planes: the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Noteworthy, the document highlights the multi-role capability demonstrated by the latter; it seems quite likely that, sooner or later, considered the cuts to the F-35s, the Italian Air Force (that so far has employed the Typhoon as an air superiority platform) will eventually commit its F-2000s to the air-to-surface role as done by the UK since Libya Air War.

Another issue raised by the document is the cost of the “operational redundancy” caused by the Italian Navy’s two aircraft carriers. The most obvious candidate to be scrapped is the Garibaldi, Italy’s first post-war aircraft carrier.

The Garibaldi, joined by the larger and more capable Cavour in 2008, could be sold to some emerging country looking for second-hand helicopter carrier capable to support Amphibious Assault operations.

In the meanwhile, you can place a bid to buy the Italian aircraft carrier on the auction someone has wryly put on eBay.

Garibaldi on eBay

 

Image credit: Lockheed Martin (top); eBay screenshot (above).

 

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The forgotten father of the Eurofighter Typhoon: the F-104 CCV

F-104 CCV

Even if the last F-104 fighter jets in active service were retired by the Italian Air Force on Oct. 31, 2004, the Starfighter legacy survived in a modern combat plane: the Eurofighter Typhoon.

As already extensively explained by Andreas Zeitler in an extensive piece for the now disappeared “Classic Aircraft”, the most advanced Starfighter ever realized anywhere in the world was a very particular German F-104 testbed.

Indeed, whereas the various G, S, ASA and ASA-M variants never featured it, there was an F-104 example fitted with fly-by-wire controls which flew about thirty years before the Italian Zippers were grounded forever.

During the 1970s, Germany understood that future fighters would need to achieve high agility as well as the ability to fly at high angles of attack. These capabilities required an unstable aircraft configuration.

In 1974, in order to address the need to test how a highly unstable supersonic jet fighter equipped with a proper redundant flight control system would fly, the German Ministry of Defense authorized MBB to proceed with the so-called Control Configured Vehicle (CCV) program.

The outcome of the CCV would be a fly-by-wire testbed: the aircraft selected for testing campaign was the F-104G, which, as Zeitler discovered, was preferred over the F-4F since the Phantom was too big and too heavy, even if its size would have offered more space for test equipment than the Starfighter.

The first phase of the trials was aimed at defining the parameters for the control algorithms of the CCV and its sensors: it lasted from Sept. 27 to Nov. 4, 1976 andwas accomplished with thirteen flights.

The second phase saw the aircraft flying in two different versions, the B (for Basic) and E (with E for Ente which means “duck”, because of the canard configuration).

Flight after flight, from a stable aircraft the F-104 became an unstable platform, a goal reached shifting the neutral point and centre of gravity of the Starfighter.

The first complete mission in CCV mode was flown on Oct. 2, 1979 by the B1 model fitted with the Control Configured Vehicle software. Another variant followed the B1: the B2 with 600 kg aft and 130 kg forward ballasts.

But the first real unstable flight took place on Nov. 20, 1980 when, along with a 240 kg nose ballast, an additional F-104 elevator was mounted behind the cockpit; a version known as E1. With this variant, the neutral point was moved forward, while the E2 configuration, adding 400 kg aft ballast, shifted  back the centre of gravity.

At that point the F-104 was really unstable and 26 sorties were conducted between July and September 1981. All the flights were safely conducted and the nose trim weight was replaced with another 200 kg ballast, realizing the E3 configuration.

With this additional ballast the Starfighter could perform flights at 20 percent negative longitudinal stability.

The testing phase lasted about four years during those the F-104 CCV demonstrator was pivotal to the design and development of a delta-canard control system later adopted by the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Dario Leone for The Aviationist

Image credit: GAF via Key Publishing forum

 

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