The new jets will replace the older Tranche 1 Eurofighters as part of Project Quadriga
The German parliament approved the acquisition of 38 new Eurofighter on Nov. 5, 2020. The new jets will replace the 38 older Eurofighters of Tranche 1, the first delivered to the Luftwaffe, as part of Project Quadriga. The contract signature with Airbus is expected this month, with deliveries starting in 2025.
“We are delighted that the German parliament has announced its commitment to the German Air Force Tranche 1 Replacement Programme (Quadriga). Securing Quadriga is excellent news for the entire Eurofighter enterprise. We look forward to signing a contract with our customer in the near future,” said Herman Claesen, CEO of Eurofighter GmbH.
Germany received the last Eurofighter of Tranche 3 last year. Earlier in 2019, the government launched Project Quadriga to replace the older jets to obtain a common configuration across the fleet. The Tranche 1 jets, in fact, would need costly upgrades to switch to the mainly air superiority configuration, with basic air to ground capability, to the full swing-role configuration. The replaced Eurofighters will be sold to the international market.
The new Eurofighter Typhoons [although it’s worth remembering that the name “Typhoon” is not used by Germany and Spain], referred to as Tranche 4, are expected to be divided in 31 single-seat and 7 two-seats aircraft. The new configuration will include the latest Phase 3 Enhancements (P3E) and the E-SCAN AESA radar, also known as European Common Radar System (ECRS). The German aircraft will be equipped with the ECRS Mk 1 variant, an improved version of the Mk 0 that is being produced for the Typhoons bought by Kuwait and Qatar. The same radar will be also retrofitted on the other 110 Eurofighter in the Luftwaffe’s inventory, of which 79 are from Tranche 2 and 31 from Tranche 3.
Another feature that will be included in the Tranche 4 configuration is the GBU-54 Laser JDAM integration. The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) placed an order in September for 2,290 guidance kits and 910 bombs that will be delivered starting from next year and used by the Eurofighter. Until now, the only guided bomb employed by German Typhoon was the GBU-48 Enhanced Paveway II known also as EGBU-16.
As we already reported, Germany is renovating the Luftwaffe fleet, starting from the Eurofighter with Project Quadriga. The next step is the replacement of the Tornado, which should be replaced by a mix of 55 Eurofighters, 30 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 15 E/A-18G Growlers. Initially, the Tornado was to be replaced entirely by Eurofighters, with the new Eurofighter ECR variant replacing the specialized Tornado ECR. However, Germany needs a nuclear capable aircraft to fulfill the NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement.
Neither the Eurofighter nor the Super Hornet are nuclear capable at the moment, but the MoD seems to have assessed with United States that the integration of the B-61 nuclear bomb will be faster on the American-made aircraft, while it would take from three to five years longer on the Eurofighter. Also, some experts do not trust Airbus to complete the development of the Eurofighter ECR in a short time, thus choosing the already available Growler.
The choice of the F/A-18 sparked some controversies in Germany as industry and government officials argued that four billion euros would be withdrawn from German industry and its suppliers, damaging the industry and causing also higher costs for the taxpayers, since the Air Force would need to build new infrastructure for a relatively small number of aircraft.
Back in October, Airbus proposed a contract for 20 new Typhoons also to Spain, to replace the oldest 20 EF-18 Hornet under Project Halcón (Hawk). The company is negotiating with the government with a possible contract net year. The aircraft configuration will be similar to the one being sold to Germany. Spain is also looking to retrofit its 19 Tranche 3 Eurofighters with the same ECRS Mk 1 radar being acquired by Germany.
Not to forget, Airbus is also running in the competition to provide up to 40 aircraft to the Swiss Air Force to replace the F/A-18 Hornet and F-5 Tiger II.