The UK’s Project Centurion activity is on track to deliver a seamless transition between the UK Royal Air Force’s Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft and the multi-role Eurofighter Typhoon later this decade, according to BAE Systems.
“We’re on course,” Andy Flynn, BAE’s delivery director for the Centurion and Typhoon projects, said at the company’s Warton final assembly site in Lancashire on 9 June.
By the end of 2018, the current strike potential of the Tornado must have been fully moved to the Typhoon – including its use of the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile (above). In its P2E guise the Typhoon will be able to deploy the weapon, plus the same supplier’s Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.
Further flight-testing of both weapons is currently underway, with a final release of the Storm Shadow from the platform due to be conducted in mid-June. To be made over a test range in the Hebrides while operating from Stornoway, this will be “an end-to-end test, with data passed to the weapon and the missile fired up”, Flynn says. Previous tests have involved un-powered releases from the Eurofighter.
The Royal Air Force will conduct additional testing from Warton, before work shifts to its Coningsby base in Lincolnshire early next year. Entry into service is scheduled later in 2017 or during 2018, according to BAE, will full capability to follow.
A final phase of test work with the Meteor is also scheduled for July, with this to include the last two development clearance firings with the missile.
Meanwhile, early work on a P3E weapons enhancement for the UK is already being conducted, with this involving MBDA’s developmental Brimstone 2 air-to-surface missile (image above shows six being carried).
“Brimstone 2 will be flying this summer,” says Flynn. The activity will involve instrumented production aircraft IPA6 and single-seat Typhoon BS117.