By Jon Lake in Farnborough

The Eurofighter programme took a major step forward yesterday with agreement to integrate the Litening 3 laser designator pod and Enhanced Paveway II dual mode GPS/laser-guided bomb on UK Royal Air Force's Typhoons.

The contract was signed between Eurofighter and the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA). This takes the programme to a new level of operational capability, and opens the way for the RAF to gain a much-needed boost in capability. With its 13 hardpoints, Typhoon can simultaneously carry four medium-range and two short-range air-to-air missiles, up to six laser-guided bombs and external fuel tanks, all without compromising the aircraft’s performance characteristics.

Peter Worrall, NETMA general manager, says air forces using Typhoons “are seeing the capability of their aircraft being consistently enhanced in line with the requirements of the development programme.” The contract is “great news for all Eurofighter stakeholders”.

The contract is significant. A Eurofighter insider pointed out that “Industry had been pressing ahead with development and engineering work "at risk" and using some advance funding, but this will facilitate more rapid progress.”

He described the contract as being “far more significant than it first appears. It’s much more than just signing the UK austere
air-to-ground contract because it represents us getting all of the dominoes in a line, with four-nation agreement on a range of engineering and programme issues. “Austere is just the first domino, and we can now look forward to making very rapid
progress in all sorts of other areas.”

Eurofighter chied executive Aloysius Rauen described Farnborough 2006 as the most exciting and significant promotional event so far for the Typhoon. “This week we have seen the world’s best-selling fighter aircraft display in both air-to-air and air-to-ground configurations.

“This morning’s contract announcement rounds off a fantastic week for everyone involved in the programme. No-one can
dispute that Typhoon delivers.”

Source: Flight Daily News