Eurofighter has won a contract to develop the ground-attack capabilities of the second production tranche of aircraft for Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
The phase one package of enhancements for Tranche 2 aircraft incorporates a redesigned software architecture to enable integration of new weapons, including the Raytheon Systems Paveway IV precision-guided bomb for the UK, and the Raytheon EGBU-16 laser-guided bomb (LGB) for other nations, plus the BGT IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile.
Eurofighter programme director Brian Phillipson says the deal – which had been due to be signed late last year - provides a “consistent product development strategy”.
The customer nations are expected to decide within the next 12 months on the integration of MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile during the latter stage of Tranche 2 production, Phillipson adds.
Deliveries under the Tranche 2 production order are expected to begin in mid-2008, with the first development aircraft to fly later this year.
The UK Royal Air Force has meanwhile revealed that its Typhoons will take on their first operational role by mid-year, providing quick reaction alert cover and progressively replacing Panavia Tornado F3s.