Stewart Penny/MANCHING

The German air force is reviewing its requirements for 40 "swing-role" Eurofighters due to enter service from 2012 as a replacement for a similar number of Panavia Tornados. Germany is also firming up Eurofighter service introduction plans.


Most of Germany's 180 Eurofighters on order will be used for air defence, replacing McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantoms and RSK MiG-29 Fulcrums - which the air force will start to retire from late 2002 and early 2004, respectively.

Lt Col Thomas Hullena, of the air force service introduction team, says the "swing-role" Eurofighters will be used for medium- to high-altitude strike missions, armed with stand-off precision-guided munitions, as well as for air defence.

He says weapons fit and the balance of orders for single- and two-seaters continue to be discussed and could be altered.

At present, five of the 40 fighters will be two-seaters, although, says Hullena, the air force is considering the role of rear-seat weapons systems officers, which would reduce workload in air-to-ground missions.

The rear cockpit would be modified for the ground attack role. He says that the UK RAF's experience of operating the Eurofighter in the swing role - the aircraft flying a mission armed with air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, and able to change its role after take-off - will be reviewed as the UK begins to use the aircraft in this way from around 2005.

The likely weapons will be laser- guided bombs (LGBs) and the DaimlerChrysler Aerospace/Saab Taurus stand-off weapon, says Hullena, although this has not been confirmed.

However, to address commonality and cost issues, a previously integrated weapon may be selected. This puts the Matra BAE Dynamics Storm Shadow - selected by Italy and the UK - in the frame, he acknowledges.

Col Gunter May of the defence ministry's fixed-wing planning, procurement and logistics staff, says Taurus will equip German Tornados, which will also get an LGB capability from 2003.

He says Germany continues to discuss the final configuration of the Eurofighter defence aids subsystem (DASS). It is on the verge of re-joining the DASS programme, equipping its fighters with the basic suite selected by Italy and Spain, but without the laser warning system (LWS) selected by the UK. He says LWS and directed infrared countermeasures "will probably be added later".

Hullena says the first four service instructor pilots (IPs) for the Eurofighter will be trained by Dasa at Manching between September 2002 and March 2003. They will then train 14 IPs at Laage - the Eurofighter national training centre - between April 2003 and June 2004.

These will in turn, aid the training of another 29 pilots for fighter wing (JG) 73, creating a pool of 47 pilots, with JG73 becoming operational in March 2005.

The next unit to convert will be JG74 in 2005 at Neuberg, followed by JG71 in 2007 at Wittmund and JG72 in 2009 at Rheine.

Source: Flight International