RAF Typhoons will from mid-2016 be armed with MBDA’s long-range bunker-busting Storm Shadow cruise missile, following a contract signing tomorrow to integrate the weapon with the service's fleet.
Defence minister Philip Dunne was at the Eurofighter pavilion on Wednesday to announce the deal. Storm Shadow, which proved effective in Libya and Iraq, is already carried by the Panavia Tornado and Dassault Rafale combat types.
According to Eurofighter capability manager Paul Smith, RAF and Italian air force Typhoons have already flown with the weapon on board, so integration is well underway. About a year of test flights are to come – including drop tests - before the stand-off missile can be delivered to the RAF.
Along with the weapons upgrade, Typhoons will also get the new Captor-E electronically scanning radar. RAF aircraft IPA5, on display at Farnborough, has been modified with the unit and will commence flight testing next week after its return to BAE Systems's site in Warton.
Storm Shadow does not rely on Captor-E, but the improved radar will dramatically improve aircraft survivability in hostile territory by increasing situational awareness, says Smith, who flew Typhoons for the RAF until his recent retirement.