A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon has been damaged during a wheels-up landing incident at the US Navy’s China Lake weapons test range in California, the UK service has confirmed.
Assigned to the RAF’s Coningsby-based 17 Sqn Operational Evaluation Unit, the aircraft sustained the damage when it landed at the end of what an RAF source describes as "routine trials work dropping laser-guided bombs." The pilot did not eject from the aircraft, which came to rest on the runway, and was not injured in the mishap, which took place on or around 25 April.
“The damage is still being assessed,” says an RAF source, who adds that a Board of Inquiry has already been established to investigate the cause of the accident. The service’s remaining fleet of almost 50 Typhoons – including aircraft providing permanent quick reaction alert duties for the southern UK from Coningsby – has not been grounded, and “there is no suggestion of airworthiness being compromised,” the source adds.
This is the second landing incident to have affected the RAF’s Typhoon force, with a two-seat aircraft operated by its 29 Sqn Operational Conversion Unit having sustained damage in early 2006 after its nose wheel failed to deploy.
The RAF says it is now working on a way of returning the damaged aircraft - worth £69.8 million ($139 million) - to the UK.
17 Sqn Typhoon pictured at RAF Coningsby © Dragon Lady/AirSpace