Eurofighter will upgrade the engines and systems on its Typhoon combat aircraft as part of a bid to replace Germany’s fleet of Panavia Tornados and support efforts to sell additional aircraft to other European countries.
On 24 April, Airbus and Eurofighter submitted to Germany’s defence ministry an offer to replace the nation's 90 Tornados, which are to be phased out from 2025.
Eurofighter chief executive Volker Paltzo, speaking at the ILA air show in Berlin on 25 April, said that the consortium intends to increase the thrust of the Typhoon’s Eurojet EJ200 engine by “about 15%”, in order to boost payload and range. Each Typhoon is powered by a pair of the 13,500lb-thrust (60kN) engines.
Paltzo says the upgrade will also include additional capabilities for the Euroradar Captor-E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that has been in development since 2014.
Describing the Captor-E as a “real game changer” capable of simultaneously tracking multiple targets in the air and on the ground, he says the ongoing development effort includes a “growth plan” to further increase capabilities in future.
The Eurofighter represents a “perfect” and “logical” choice for Germany, because the country already operates 130 Typhoons and economies of scale would deliver savings in terms of both fleet introduction and costs per flight hour, says Paltzo.
Acquisition of the type would also be “the least risk solution” as “Germany knows, uses and understands our aircraft”, he adds.
Saying that Eurofighter expects to replace Germany’s full Tornado fleet, Paltzo asserts the Typhoon will deliver “every capability and perform every mission” that the country’s Tornados “currently” undertake. Berlin uses the ageing Panavia aircraft for roles including ground attack and electronic warfare.
In addition to the benefits for Germany, Paltzo says the selection of the twin-engined type would also be the “right choice for Europe”, because the production would sustain the region’s defence aerospace industry as a “natural bridge”, until a projected future European fighter programme is established.
France and Germany tentatively agreed in late 2017 to develop a future combat air system that is “currently” expected to enter service around 2040.
“The technologies we are developing for Eurofighter today will go hand in hand with those technologies we expect to see on a future European fighter programme – manned or unmanned,” says Paltzo.
He says that he expects the Eurofighter to stay in production into the 2030s, remaining in service until around 2060.
The consortium sees potential to sell a total of 300 additional aircraft, and has ongoing sales campaigns with the governments of Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Poland and Switzerland as they look to upgrade legacy fleets.
Of existing orders for about 620 aircraft, 536 units have been delivered.
Belgium is expected to make a decision by July about the acquisition of 35 aircraft; Eurofighter has recently submitted a final offer to Brussels, Platzo says. Finland is considering the purchase of 64 aircraft, while Switzerland is to decide by 2019 about an order for 30-40 units, he adds.
Bulgaria’s government is evaluating an order for at least eight units, while Poland is “still shaping its requirements”.