Eurofighter and engine supplier Eurojet are stepping up their efforts to interest Typhoon customer nations in a thrust-vectoring upgrade that promises to bring substantial operational benefits and pay for itself through lifecycle cost reductions.

Equipping the twin-engined Typhoon's EJ200s with thrust vectoring nozzles (TVN) could reduce fuel burn on a typical mission by up to 5%, while increasing available thrust in supersonic cruise by up to 7%, the engine consortium says.

Eurojet partner ITP benchtested a TVN several years ago, and EADS earlier this year equipped its Typhoon cockpit simulator to emulate the performance enhancements offered by the technology.

The industrial partners are now looking for funding to launch a flight-demonstrator programme.

Thrust vectoring could provide a virtual control surface when coupled with the Typhoon's flight-control system, improving survivability, manoeuvrability and the aircraft's ability to carry an asymmetric weapons load. It also reduces trim drag and therefore fuel consumption by "unloading" aerodynamic control surfaces.

EJ200 thrust vectoring
© Eurojet

"Most operationally significant is the speed that it gives you in supercruise, because obviously the pilots are very keen on low observability at high speed," says Salvador Costa Krämer, Eurofighter product manager for Tranche 3 production, Meteor integration and new business. "Seven per cent more thrust in supercruise is quite a remarkable achievement," he adds.

Eurojet technical director Matt Price says that while thrust vectoring promises operational advantages, "we have to look at lifecycle costs as well. The business that we're in is that we have to hit both those things together."

© Eurojet Turbo gmbh 2009

Thrust vectoring has the potential to extend engine life by reducing operating temperatures at a given power setting. It could also be used to reduce take-off and landing distances and approach speed.

"We know the benefit is there," says Price. "In terms of route to market we need to be able to quantify that and present it in the right way to the customer."

He says that after flying the modified EADS simulator, "some of the pilots have been quite astonished at what the aircraft can do".

The TVN could be retofitted to the existing EJ200 without the need for structural changes to the engine or airframe, says Eurojet.

© Eurojet Turbo gmbh 2009

Source: Flight International