2014-12-12 Eurofighter is continuing to progress with its weapons modernization program.
Recent test firings of Storm Shadow by the Typhoon are a crucial step in the subsuming of some of the missions of the soon to be retired Tornado aircraft.
According to a Eurofighter press release dated early December 2014:
The Italian aerospace and defense company Alenia Aermacchi, working closely with its Eurofighter partners, has successfully conducted the first release of a Storm Shadow missile from a Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft as part of its missile integration program.
The trials took place in November and saw the missile being released from the aircraft and tracked by radar up to impact.
Storm Shadow provides a significant leap in the Eurofighter Typhoon’s operational capabilities, enabling the platform to deploy multiple weapons at a very long range well clear of danger from air defenses.
Alberto Gutierrez, Chief Executive Officer of Eurofighter GmbH said: “The trials represents an important step forward in the development and integration of the Storm Shadow weapon system onto the Eurofighter Typhoon. The results help pave the way for full integration of the missile onto the aircraft for operational use.”
In parallel to the flight trials led by Alenia Aermacchi, another Eurofighter partner, BAE Systems, has completed the first trial installation of a Storm Shadow missile onto a RAF Typhoon with support from weapons provider MBDA. The confirmation of this procedure is an essential part of the integration contract.
Storm Shadow, already in service with the Italian Air Force and Royal Air Force Tornados, is a conventionally armed, stealthy, long-range stand-off precision weapon designed to neutralise high value targets.
The new weapons system will add the capability to strike in day or night in all-weather conditions, well-defended infrastructure targets such as port facilities, control centers, bunkers, missile sites, airfields and bridges that would otherwise require several aircraft and missions…..
Another element of the Tornado to Typhoon transition is equipping the Typhoon with the Brimstone missile.
And progress is being made on this front as well.
According to a BAE Systems press release dated December 12, 2014:
We have completed the first full trial installation of MBDA’s Brimstone missile onto a Typhoon aircraft.
The trial fit is an important milestone in demonstrating the integration of the missile with the aircraft and follows the successful completion of an initial £5M study contract awarded to us by the UK’s Ministry of Defence earlier this year. The trials are helping to pave the way for Brimstone 2 integration for the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) by 2018.
Six Brimstone missiles were fitted to the aircraft, each wing carrying a launcher with three missiles. Training missiles were used for the purposes of the trial and demonstrated that the weapon can be fitted to the aircraft. The aircraft was also fitted with two Paveway IV precision guided bombs, showing the baseline Phase 3 Enhancements Air-to-Surface configuration which will provide RAF Typhoon operators with a multi-role platform capable of addressing a wide range of target sets and delivering a variety of proportional precision weapon effects.
Andy Blythe, Test Pilot said “Brimstone is an extremely flexible combat low collateral damage missile which was proven on the Tornado GR4. Brimstone 2 is the next iteration of the weapon and building on its previous successes, will undoubtedly provide the RAF with a potent capability. When the system is paired with Typhoon and Paveway IV, the aircraft will be able to engage a huge cross section of potential targets.”
The current Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone which Brimstone 2 replaces is effective against the most challenging, high speed and manoeuvring targets over land and sea. As a low collateral, close air support weapon it is already combat proven by the RAF in Afghanistan, Libya and most recently in Iraq on the Tornado GR4.
And test firings of the Meteor missile continue as well.
According to a BAE Systems press release dated December 4, 2014:
Following contract signature in 2013 for the full integration of Meteor onto Typhoon, the trials continue to demonstrate that the weapon operates effectively with the aircraft.
Led by ourselves with support from MBDA, Selex, Qinetiq and MOD, the trials were conducted in November 2014 at the MOD’s Hebrides firing range in the UK and further developed and tested the integration of the missile with the weapon system as well as expanding the jettison envelope by conducting firings at different altitudes and speeds. The trials also tested the interface of the missile with the weapon system for both pre-launch priming and post launch datalink functions between the missile and radar.
Test pilot Nat Makepeace flew the sortie and said: “The aircraft and the weapon performed exactly as expected. It’s very easy and intuitive to operate, and the trials demonstrated that we can operate in an expanded envelope safely and accurately. This is a significant step forward for the full integration of the Meteor missile onto the Typhoon aircraft.”
Produced by MBDA, Meteor is an active radar guided missile designed to provide a multi-shot capability against long-range maneuvering targets, such as fast jets, small unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles in a heavy electronic countermeasures environment.
Capable of engaging air targets during day and night, and in all-weather conditions, the Meteor will complement Typhoon’s existing missile systems, providing pilots with a greater choice of weapons during combat.
Further firing trials are scheduled to be carried out as part of the Meteor Integration contract to fully expand the launch envelope and weapon system integration which will culminate in the integration being complete in 2017.
Expanding the Effects of Eurofighter
Group Captain Paul Godfrey, OBE has extensive experience of a range of combat aircraft through Harrier, F-16 and Typhoon. A Harrier weapons instructor, he was the first non-US national to fly the F-16 CJ operationally in the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) role whilst on exchange with the USAF and has spent the last 10 years in the Typhoon program with two flying tours including 4th/5th generation fighter training with the F-22.
After his current tour working on the Initial Operating Capability of the UK F-35B, he will become Station Commander RAF Lossiemouth, where two Typhoon squadrons are now located and a third will stand up in 2015.
According to Group Captain Godrey, a key impact of missile modernization on Typhoon will be to expand the effects of Typhoon operations.
“There is a clear need to expand the effects of Typhoon operations and here the enhancement of its weapons package will be an important improvement.”
The retirement of the Tornado as well is driving weapons modernization for the Typhoon. To take up some of this role the Eurofighter is being reconfigured to provide an enhanced capability for the ground attack role, over and above the austere level of Enhanced Paveway II integration that was used by the RAF during the Libya campaign.
Paveway 4 is being integrated in P1E and then further weapon capability, primarily from MBDA, is being integrated, some of which are currently carried by Tornado.
The Tornado carries both Storm Shadow and Brimstone and both are being shaped for integration onboard the Eurofighter.
The integration of the Storm Shadow on Typhoon is being driven in part by funding from the Middle East, notably Saudi Arabia which wants its Typhoons to have a cruise missile carrying capability, and when married with its new air tanking capability can enhance the strike range of its Typhoon force.
Brimstone 2 is designed to operate against maneuvering surface targets on land or sea. It is a low collateral, close air support weapon and has been combat proven by the RAF in both Afghanistan and Libya. It will greatly enhance the effect of the Eurofighter as well.
And Typhoon will carry the new Meteor missile as well which allows for a broader range of defensive operations for the combat aircraft. he Meteor is a software upgradeable air-to-air missile with significant range and capabilities. And it is being integrated on several 4th generation aircraft – Eurofighter, Rafale and Gripen – as well as the F-35.
A White Paper on the Meteor Missile
The new Meteor missile developed by MBDA is a representative of a new generation of air combat missiles for a wide gamut of new air systems.
It can be fitted on the F-35, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen and other 21st century aircraft.
The Background Environment
Increasing proliferation of state-of–the-art air-to-air threats is a critical challenge for modern Air Forces answered by METEOR;
METEOR is being developed to meet the requirements of six European nations (UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden and France) for a superior Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile system with the operational capability to excel in all current and future combat scenarios;
This collaboration of six European nations provides access to technology and expertise from across Europe.
The range and performance of the Meteor and its ability to enable both old and new air systems moves air-to-air weapons into the next generation.
What is METEOR and what are its benefits?
A fast and highly maneuverable Beyond Visual Range air-to-air weapon
Largest No Escape Zone of any air-to-air weapon resulting in a long stand-off range and high kill probability to ensure air superiority and pilot survivability;
Guidance is provided by an active radar seeker benefiting from enhanced technologies drawn from MBDA’s advanced seeker programs;
Capable of engaging air targets autonomously by night or day, in all weather and in severe electronic warfare environments;
Equipped with both a proximity and impact fuse to ensure total target destruction in all circumstances.
METEOR will be integrated onto several major platforms:
Saab Gripen; and
Potential to add to the air-to-air capability of other combat platforms including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
Meteor provides a step change in capability.
For a brochure explaining the Meteor see below:
The video at the beginning of the article shows the recent Meteor test firing from Typhoon and is credited to BAE Systems.