Eurofighter completes crucial firing trials


A condition for the appearance of Eurofighter in the Paris flying display was for the aircraft to have successfully fired the air-to-air missiles it will be armed with when the first example is handed over to the Royal Air Force next year, says a Eurofighter source. Over the last few weeks, Alenia's prototype DA7 fired the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM medium range, radar-guided air-to-air missile and the MBDA ASRAAM short-range, infrared-guided missile. Earlier trials included the launch of the Raytheon AIM-9L Sidewinder. Eurofighter says the ASRAAM launch was conducted in a 6g manoeuvre at Mach 0.89. Production is under way of initial production aircraft at the Eurofighter Partner Companies (EPCs), Alenia, BAE Systems, EADS Casa and EADS Germany. The first is scheduled to fly later this year at BAE's Warton factory and will be used as part of the flight test fleet. The RAF is due to receive its first aircraft in June next year. The initial unit will be based at Warton, to ease the service introduction. The German, Italian and Spanish air forces will also base their early aircraft at the national EPC. Early aircraft will be delivered to the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) standard before Full Operational Capability (FOC) aircraft start to roll off the production lines in 2005. IOC aircraft will not be fitted with systems such as the infrared search and track and will be optimised for the air-to-air role. FOC Eurofighters will be swing role, able to operate in air-to-air and air-to-ground roles during the same mission. As the programme moves towards first deliveries the customers and Eurofighter have started to discuss the development of the aircraft beyond FOC, says the consortium.

Source: Flight Daily News