BAE Systems is close to delivering its final Eurofighter Typhoon for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF), as it eyes fresh export opportunities to extend production of the multi-role type beyond 2024.
Due to be handed over later this year, the RAF’s final Tranche 3-standard Typhoon made its second flight from the company’s Warton final assembly site in Lancashire on 5 August, and is now undergoing remaining equipment installation and trials, says Andy Flynn, Eurofighter and Centurion capability director at BAE Systems Air.
Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer records the RAF as having a current active fleet of 116 Typhoons, the oldest of which are 14 years old. Under current plans, the type should remain in UK service until 2040, operating alongside its short take-off and vertical landing Lockheed Martin F-35Bs.
A major operational update for the RAF’s Typhoons delivered via a BAE-led Project Centurion activity earlier this year is being followed by further work to enhance the type’s human-machine interface, Flynn says.
BAE is currently manufacturing Typhoon structures at its Samlesbury plant in Lancashire in support of a 28-aircraft deal with Kuwait, for which Eurofighter partner company Leonardo is performing final assembly in Italy. The UK company has already supplied the first three major units of equipment in support of the acquisition, and will continue deliveries through to 2022.
“Coming really quickly behind that we have got the Qatar jets,” says Flynn, confirming that the build process has begun. Upcoming test activities to be conducted in support of the purchase include integrating Mk 82- and Mk 83-series general purpose bombs and Lockheed’s Sniper targeting pod, he adds.
Typhoons produced for both Kuwait and Qatar will be equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) sensors produced in a so-called “Radar 1” standard by the Euroradar consortium. Already in flight-test using instrumented production aircraft IPA8 in Germany, the AESA hardware will also soon be flown aboard IPA5 from Warton.
BAE on 31 July disclosed that it has signed a contract amendment with Qatar, under which the delivery of some of its eventual 24 Typhoons will be accelerated into 2022.
Group finance director Peter Lynas confirms that all of the nation’s aircraft will be handed over between 2022 and 2024, with peak deliveries to occur during 2023. Under an acquisition previously outlined as worth approximately £5 billion ($6 billion), Doha also will receive nine Hawk advanced jet trainers from BAE.
Meanwhile, in a half-year results report published on 31 July, BAE says: “The memorandum of intent signed between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UK government in March 2018 remains under discussion for a further 48 Typhoon aircraft, support and transfer of technology and capability.”
If finalised, the agreement will include in-country final assembly of the type, 72 of which have previously been acquired for the Royal Saudi Air Force.