British Aerospace is working on an airframe modification kit for the Eurofighter EF2000 combat aircraft which will significantly increase its combat radius in the strike role.

The company is developing upper fuselage conformal fuel tanks, as well as larger underwing tanks, which would give the aircraft an unrefuelled combat radius in excess of 2,780km (1,500nm), say sources close to the programme.

The Royal Air Force is understood to be interested in the modification for EF2000s to be used in the strike role, although no funding has yet been made available.

The RAF and BAe's interest in extending the combat radius of the basic EF2000 design reflects the increased emphasis being put on extended range strike missions. While the EF2000's basic range is adequate, the aircraft's operational requirement was drafted in the early 1980s around the threat of a conflict in central Europe.

Since the break-up of the Warsaw Pact, the RAF has been increasingly tasked with out of area operations, placing increasing demands on the combat radius of the aircraft.

Several potential Eurofighter customers, including Singapore, and Australia, are also interested in gaining as large a combat radius as possible with their next aircraft.

Source: Flight International