Top image shows Eurofighter IPA (instrumented production aircraft) 7 flying over Cassidian´s Military Air Systems Center in Manching with an impressive payload: Laser Designator Pod, two Supersonic Fuel Tanks, two IRIS-T Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles, four AMRAAM Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles as well as four Paveway IV bombs loaded.
Along with IPA4, IPA7 has just finished the flight testing of the so-called Eurofighter Typhoon Phase 1 Enhancements (P1E) program, that will be ready for the customers by the end of 2013.
According to Cassidian, the defence division of EADS, “P1E implements full Air-to-Surface capability on Eurofighter Typhoon – including Laser Designator Pod -, full smart bomb integration, modern secure Identification Friend or Foe (Mode 5), improved Radios and Direct Voice Input, Air-to-Surface Helmet Mounted Sight System, improved Air-to-Air capabilities including digital integration of Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles and updated MIDS (Multifunctional Information Distribution System) Datalink functionalities for enhanced interoperability with Coalition Forces.”
Based on data made available by Eurofighter, the Typhoon’s HMSS features lower latency, higher definition, improved symbology and night vision than the most common fighter helmet, namely the American JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System), that equips all the U.S. armed forces F-16, F-18 and F-15 jets, and became operational towards the end of the ’90s.
The rather “bumpy” HMSS (as well as the JHMCS, the DASH, Striker and so on), provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery, making the Typhoon quite lethal in air-to-air engagements.
Information (including aircraft’s airspeed, altitude, weapons status, aiming etc) is projected on the visor, the HEA – Helmet Equipment Assembly – for the Typhoon, enabling the pilot to look out in any direction with all the required data always in his field of vision.
Towed decoy systems are used to protect military aircraft from radar-guided missiles. These countermeasures are towed behind the host aircraft protecting it against both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. They provide a radiowave reflecting baid that attracts the RF-guided missiles away from the intended target.
Unlike the miniature air launch decoys (MALD) and decoy jammers (MALD Jammers) being tested by the U.S. Air Force for B-52H bombers and F-16 Fighting Falcons to deceive ground radars and anti-aircraft systems, such decoys have a defensive purpose.
Many aircraft are equipped with such towed decoys. The U.S. F-18s and B-1s are equipped with the ALE-50 system, while the Eurofighter Typhoon is equipped with a Towed Radar Decoy carried in the starboad side wingtip pod.
Image credit: Raytheon
According to the information released by Eurofighter, the TRD is attached to the pod using a Fibre Optic link used to send commands to the decoy radio frequency emitter to produce jamming signals required to lure the missile away from the “parent aircraft”.
Even if the Eurofighter website contains several diagrams showing the Typhoon’s towed decoy, no image can be found of the decoy being towed by a plane, except the following ones taken by Gian Luca Onnis (during an unclassified test – image released).
Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis (image released for use)
Two pilots flying what they thought was a routine flight to Germany for servicing of their Embraer Phenom executive jet had more than they bargained for when two Luftwaffe Typhoons appeared on their wing tip.
According to The Local website, the two German Eurofighters were scrambled from Norvenich airbase after British firm Hangar 8 had reported the jet stolen and had called German Police to tell them of the theft, even if it is unclear on why they went to the German Police in the first instance.
The risk of an illegal plane, being flown by unknown pilots with an unknown aim in German airspace prompted terror fears. German Police contacted NATO who in turn contacted the Luftwaffe, which launched two Eurofighters to intercept the jet and bring it down safely.
According to The Local, a Luftwaffe spokeman said: “We received the alarm via NATO at 19:48. Within six minutes two of our Eurfighters started from Norvenich” within 30 minutes the Phenom jet was on the ground at Cologne’s Cologne-Bonn airport, where Police welcomed the two bemused Austrian pilots.
The article does not say when the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) was launched: most probably it happened on Mar. 31, 2012.
The two hapless pilots both Austrians, said that they had taken off from Nigeria, refueled in Algeria and were heading for Cologne to take the jet for servicing.
The plane will remain grounded until the ownership can be established.
All media outlets have been reporting the various reactions to the news that India is “likely” to award the contract for its MMRCA competition to Dassault as it was the lowest cost bid.
Aviation week’s Robert Wall wrote that the news is “Not going down well in London”.
Although Wall points out that Germany led the Eurofighter campaign, he describes the disapointment amongst British politicians as “palpable”. Indeed, many are complaining under their breath that Britain gives many more times aid to India than France ever has.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had, along with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, lobbied on behalf of the Eurofighter bid and did have to admit “the decision is obviously disappointing”. In an attempt to quell increasing worries from other members of the British parliament he pointed out that “they have not yet awarded the contract”. Cameron also promised to do all he could to persuade the Indians to take another look at the Typhoon and that job losses in the UK are not expected as a result.
Job losses is also a concern for the other three partners of the Eurofighter consortium, Italy, Germany and Spain each building sections of the jet but doing little to sponsor the aircraft in the Indian contest.
Although Eurofighter was believed to have a more political clout because it was backed by four European countries, lack of a united effort from partners could have been a decisive flaw on the Typhoon side. Those countries that were supposed to unitarily support the F-2000, are the same that in times of financial crisis have been much distant one another on the strategy to save the Eurozone.
Anyway, since everybody is claiming that no contract has been signed yet and 6-8 months of (hard) negotiations lie ahead for Dassault, someone has already tried to raise the stakes.
For instance, in a statement to Reuters, Pentagon spokeswoman Leslie Hull-Ryde said there had been no U.S. offer to sell India the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35, but Washington would provide information on the jet’s infrastructure and security requirements if India showed interest in purchasing the Joint Strike Fighter. Even if it’s hard to believe the U.S. would give the requested technology transfer on its most (costly) and troubled program, a contract worth 10 billion USD for 126 planes (with 80 more examples on the shopping list), might spur the Department of Defense to knock on New Dehli’s door with the resolve needed to persuade India to scrap its own 5th generation fighter radar evanding plane in favor of the F-35.
In the meanwhile, boosted by the win in India, Dassault has made a new offer to Switzerland where the Rafale was beaten by the Swedish Gripen in the selection for the Swiss Air Force F-5 replacement.
Let’s see what happens.
Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti