MBDA’s Storm Shadow cruise missile has been flown with a Eurofighter Typhoon for the first time, with the combination having got airborne from Decimomannu air base in Sardinia on 27 November. Two of the roughly 1.3t weapons were carried by the combat aircraft, using hardpoints usually occupied by external fuel tanks.
Performed by Alenia Aermacchi using instrumented production aircraft 2, the first airborne carriage trial marks the latest stage in a process which will clear the more than 135nm (250km)-range weapon for use with the Eurofighter from 2015. The work falls within a Phase 2 enhancement programme being conducted for core nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
“Storm Shadow is a major step forward, significantly increasing the air-to-ground capabilities of the Typhoon,” says Eurofighter chief executive Alberto Gutierrez. Its integration with the type will maintain the stand-off-range strike capabilities of the Italian air force and UK Royal Air Force after they retire their current Panavia Tornado IDS and GR4 fleets from late this decade.
Versions of the European-built weapon could also be employed by Saudi Arabia and potential Typhoon customer the United Arab Emirates.