BAE Systems is moving into a busy few months of flight-testing involving numerous enhancements for the Eurofighter Typhoon, as it also continues to eye further export opportunities for the type.

Among the equipment due to get airborne in the coming weeks is the Leonardo UK ECRS Mk2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, BAE’s Striker II helmet-mounted display, and a developmental replacement mission computer.

The first two of those enhancements are under contract for integration with Typhoons operated by the UK Royal Air Force, with 40 Tranche 3 examples to receive the AESA update. The new sensor – which also will support electronic attack applications – is due to enter operational use in 2030.


Source: Leonardo

Leonardo UK is developing the ECRS Mk2 sensor for Typhoon integration

BAE received a £40 million ($50 million) production contract for its Striker II from the UK Ministry of Defence last September. It is hoping to see other operators pick the helmet for use with their Eurofighters, with announcements possible later this year.

Boasting 200 times the computing power of the ageing system currently used on the Eurofighter, the new unified mission computer is being developed in support of the programme’s long-term evolution activity. Other technologies being matured by BAE for potential future integration with the aircraft include a large-area display.

Shipments of the Typhoon have already concluded for the UK customer, and BAE is nearing the end of deliveries to Qatar from its Warton final assembly site in Lancashire, under a 24-aircraft order. The company also manufactures front fuselage sections at its nearby Samlesbury location for all Eurofighters built.

But David Hulme, Eurofighter project director at BAE Systems Air, believes there is strong potential to continue production beyond the start of next decade.

Potential international sales currently being targeted by BAE include a 54-aircraft follow-on deal with Saudi Arabia, via a competition also involving the Boeing F-15EX and Dassault Aviation Rafale. Other prospects being eyed by the company and its Eurofighter industrial partners Airbus Defence & Space and Leonardo include Egypt, Kuwait, Poland and Turkey.

“All the Eurofighter partner companies are active,” Hulme notes of current sales campaigns around the globe, with the consortium targeting an extra 100-200 orders. “We are actively campaigning on multiple fronts.”

Current contracts include for new batches of aircraft for Germany (38, via Project Quadriga) and Spain (20: Halcon), and both of those nations could still commit to more. Italy also is starting to consider the possibility of bolstering its current fleet with a repeat order.

Noting that 680 Eurofighters will have been delivered by the end of this decade, he adds: “There is a huge opportunity in the next 20 to 30 years if we don’t sell any further aircraft to upgrade and enhance the capabilities on those aircraft.”

Already confirmed orders will safeguard production activities at BAE until 2031, Hulme says. The company is leading the UK’s industrial involvement in the Global Combat Air Programme, which aims to deliver a next-generation manned combat aircraft for operational use by the UK, plus Italy and Japan, from 2035.

BAE is currently manufacturing a UK-only fighter demonstrator in support of the effort, with further details of the activity likely to emerge around the time of the Farnborough air show in mid-July.