BAE Systems has for the first time installed MBDA Brimstone air-to-surface missiles beneath the wing of a Eurofighter, providing a glimpse of the Typhoon’s future multirole fit for the UK Royal Air Force.
Six Brimstone 2 training rounds were fitted to a single-seat Typhoon at BAE’s Warton site in Lancashire, using a pair of three-missile launchers. The trial marked the conclusion of a £5 million ($7.8 million) feasibility study awarded to BAE earlier this year linked to the precision strike weapon.
“The aircraft was also fitted with two [Raytheon Systems] Paveway IV precision-guided bombs, showing the baseline Phase 3 enhancements air-to-surface configuration,” says BAE. “The trials are helping to pave the way for Brimstone 2 integration for the Royal Air Force by 2018."
The RAF is now taking delivery of Typhoons in the P1EB operating configuration, which enables the type to deploy the 226kg (500lb)-class Paveway IV.
Enhancing the ground-attack capabilities of the Typhoon is a key requirement for the UK, as it advances towards the retirement of its last Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft in 2019. In addition to gaining the Brimstone 2 and Paveway IV, it will also be able to deploy MBDA’s Storm Shadow cruise missile.
Meanwhile, January will see a test of the RAF’s ability to conduct swing-role operations with the Typhoon, with its Lossiemouth-based 1 Sqn to participate in a Red Flag multinational exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada. The service will also deploy a Boeing E-3D Sentry airborne warning and control system aircraft from its 8 Sqn and a 5 Sqn-operated Sentinel R1 battlefield reconnaissance aircraft – a special mission derivative of the Bombardier Global Express – to the USA for the activity.