Eurofighter announces flight tests: Storm Shadow & Taurus stand-off missiles

© Alenia Aer.

Eurofighter announces flight tests for Storm Shadow and Taurus stand-off precision missiles and first flight of Tranche 3 aircraft by year-end

  • Phase 1 Enhancements completed by end of 2013
  • 400th Eurofighter Typhoon to be delivered in December 2013
  • 250,000 flying hours will be achieved in spring 2014

A series of major delivery commitments which will significantly enhance the capability of the world’s most advanced swing role/multi-role combat aircraft have been confirmed by the Eurofighter consortium.

Ground tests with the Storm Shadow and Taurus missiles have already been completed, and intensive flight test campaigns will begin imminently. Both missiles will further increase the air-to-ground capabilities of the Eurofighter Typhoon. The first Tranche 3 aircraft will perform its first flight by year-end and Phase 1 Enhancements will be completed within this timeframe. This was announced on Wednesday during a Media Briefing at the Dubai Air Show 2013. The event takes place from 17 to 21 November in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Flight tests for Storm Shadow and Taurus stand-off precision missiles

Laurie Hilditch, Head of Future Capability at Eurofighter GmbH, said: “These capability enhancements underline that our proven and trusted programme is well on track and that we achieve what we promise. Looking ahead, I am pleased to announce today that the 400th Eurofighter Typhoon is scheduled to be delivered to the German Air Force on 4 December 2013 and the global fleet is expected to achieve a quarter million flying hours in spring 2014.”

A major goal of the flight tests is to assess the Storm Shadow in flight and to achieve clearance for the full integration on the Eurofighter Typhoon by 2015. First tests will be undertaken on the Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) by Alenia Aermacchi at the Decimomannu Air Base in Sardinia/Italy. The Storm Shadow, manufactured by MBDA, is already in service with the Tornados of the Italian Air Force, Royal Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Force. It is a conventionally armed, stealthy, long-range stand-off precision weapon designed to neutralise high value targets. The weapon system will add the capability to strike by day or night in all-weather conditions, well-defended infrastructure targets such as port facilities, control centres, bunkers and bridges that would otherwise require several missions.

As part of the Storm Shadow integration programme, Cassidian, the Defence and Security Division of EADS, will start flight testing with the Taurus missile on the Instrumented Production Aircraft 7 (IPA7) in December 2013. Concurrent testing of these two similar missiles optimises the Storm Shadow integration and facilitates the future airframe integration of Taurus. Taurus KEPD 350 is a German/Swedish missile which is manufactured by Taurus Systems GmbH, a partnership between MBDA Germany and Saab Bofors Dynamics. The missile incorporates stealth characteristics and is designed to strike targets such as bunkers and command and control facilities.

First flight of Tranche 3 aircraft

The first Tranche 3 aircraft are currently in the final assembly lines in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain. BAE Systems just completed the engines testing of its first Tranche 3 aircraft in Warton. First flight will take place before year-end. First delivery is scheduled for the Royal Air Force (RAF).

In order to further increase the operational capabilities of the combat aircraft,  Eurofighter GmbH and the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) signed a new Development Contract in October 2013. The package (known as Evolution Package 2) consists of a number of improvements including enhancements to the major avionics sensor such as the Radar and the Defensive Aids Sub Systems (DASS). It also includes enhancements designed to cater for the latest operational requests of customers and enhancements to the Multifunction Information and Distribution System (MIDS).

Since entry into service of the first Eurofighter Typhoon at the end of 2003, more than 390 Eurofighter Typhoons have been delivered to six nations: Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia. In December 2012, Oman became the seventh customer ordering a total of twelve aircraft. Eurofighter Typhoon is currently in service at 20 operational units in the Northern and Southern hemisphere and up to now, the whole fleet has completed more than 210,000 flying hours worldwide.

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