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Eurofighter weapons, radar and sensor updates mooted

Eurofighter could receive an internal weapons bay as part of future product developments that also includes improved systems and sensors.

Ross Bradley, BAE Systems programme director for Eurofighter/Typhoon, says: "Long- term studies have been done and there are enormous opportunities for derivatives."

Eurofighter is likely to benefit from work done for the UK's Future Offensive Air System (FOAS) which is due to replace the Panavia Tornado in the deep-strike role in around 2020.

The 620 aircraft ordered by Eurofighter's four partner nations will be delivered in batches, each of which will be different, taking advantage of emerging technologies and to meet changing scenarios. Tranche 1 covers 155 aircraft to be delivered from 2002.

FOAS will consider manned aircraft, unmanned combat air vehicles and cruise missiles. Dividing the deep-strike role between diverse systems will reduce the number of aircraft to be acquired, making a derivative of an existing airframe attractive financially.

Manned FOAS studies have considered an internal weapons bay to improve low observability, says Bradley.

The weapons bay would replace a fuel tank. In its place could be conformal tanks on the upper fuselage or fuel in the fin. "We see the FOAS main platform as being Eurofighter," he says.

Other changes to meet the FOAS requirement include additional air-to-ground weapons, an enlarged wing and improved sensors and processing. The latter is likely to concentrate sensor processing in a single computer rather than at each sensor, be it radar, electro-optical or the defence aids subsystem (DASS).

This would "drive costs down", says Bradley. Tranche 3 aircraft will probably have 360° sensor coverage. Definition of tranche 2 aircraft is required by the end of this year while tranche 3 Eurofighters will be delivered in around 2010.

• Germany is expected to rejoin the Eurofighter DASS programme in the next few weeks, acquiring the same DASS configuration as Italy and Spain. The UK has the same equipment but also integrates a laser warning system. The Germany "entrance fee" to rejoin the programme will be used to fund DASS enhancements.

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