UK DEFENCE– EUROFIGHTER TYPHOON ENTERS EXPORT PHASE FROM POSITION OF STRENGTH
By Howard Wheeldon, Senior Strategist at BGC Partners
23 Aug 11. Combat proven and widely considered the most advanced multi-role fast jet capability available in the world today, brimming with sophisticated technology such as voice control, electronics and software that includes active and passive detection and countermeasure systems and in service with UK, German, Italian, Spanish, Austrian and Saudi Arabian air forces the Eurofighter Typhoon is regarded by those that fly the aircraft as the most versatile and manoeuvrable fighter jet in front line military service today.
Offering the full spectrum of required air operational capability and superiority for its many users and carrying a wide range of weapon capability options including long-range air-to air AIM-120C ASRAAM missiles, the ASRAAM advanced within visual range air-to-air missile, the Meteor long-range air-to-air ramjet missile, the Enhanced Paveway II precision guided 1,000lb bombs with potential also to carry Taurus, JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), JSDW, DWS-39 Storm Shadow and Brimstone whether Typhoon is required for air interdiction, close air support, defence suppression or maritime attack it meets all potential capability requirements. Now fitted with the LITENING III Targeting POD system for the air to ground role and with plans approved in the UK to upgrade existing radar with the already well proven electronically scanned AESA (E-Scan) system providing pilots with greater reliability, enhanced capability and range Typhoon was recently described by one senior RAF pilot serving in Libya and who has already racked up over 1,000 hours flying the aircraft as “a fantastic jet to fly, one that is incredibly agile and that is also able to carry a flexible range of weaponry”.
In conversation with front line Typhoon pilots based at RAF Coningsby including some that had recently returned from flying combat missions in Libya the words superb and fantastic were the most commonly used to describe the aircraft capability and performance. Of necessity for the military user reliability, efficiency, maintenance and support requirements, downtime, spares availability, cost of operation and through life support are all matters of equal importance to those of mission capability. On all such counts Typhoon appears to tick boxes well – a formidable achievement for the European partners in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain that have worked so hard to ensure that this was an aircraft that did far more than what it said on the tin.
Shortlisted earlier this year by the Indian government as one of two remaining contenders for the large M-MRCA fighter jet award confirms that Typhoon is entering a more crucial stage in terms of meeting export market potential. India is a tough environment place for any aircraft to operate and versatility including the ability to operate in a variety of hot, cold, high and low altitude conditions at all times will prove to be a key issue that decides which of the two competing European designed and built aircraft – Typhoon or Rafale – wins the M-MRCA competition. With a landmass of 2.9 million square kilometres that is equal to one third of USA and with the Himalayas that include some of the highest mountains and high altitude requirement in the world to the north, the vast Indian Ocean to the south, the Bay of Bengal in the east including Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Arabian Sea to the west the total coastline that India needs to defend is put at around 7,517 km.
However, it is not only the ability for an aircraft to operate successfully in a variety of difficult terrains and environmental conditions that will decide who wins the M-MRCA competition. Whilst price and performance capability will be very important the Indian government will also be very sensitive to proposals of how its domestic industry can benefit from the process of industrialisat