Eurofighter trials new Typhoon enhancements

BLACKEAGLE

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Eurofighter trials new Typhoon enhancements
Nicholas de Larrinaga, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
19 July 2015


Eurofighter Typhoon IPA7 featuring the Aerodynamic Modification Kit (AMK) upgrades, part of the wider

Eurofighter Enhanced Manoeuvrability (EFEM) project. The modified areas of the aircraft are identifiable through their darker shading. Source: Airbus Defence and Space
Key Points
  • Airbus has generated major manoeuvrability upgrades to the Eurofighter Typhoon
  • BAE Systems and Alenia Aermacchi are continuing work to integrate the Storm Shadow cruise missile onto the aircraft
The Eurofighter Typhoon continues to extend its capabilities with each of the three companies involved in the consortium announcing new capability trials on the aircraft in mid-July.

On 15 July Airbus Defence and Space announced it has completed flight trials of a new Aerodynamic Modification Kit (AMK) for the Typhoon: a package it claimed offers a major increase in aircraft performance - including a 25% increase in maximum lift, a 45% increase in maximum angle of attack (AA), and a 100% increase in the aircraft's roll rate.

Raffaele Beltrame, one of the company test pilots involved in the project, stated simply to IHS Jane's on 16 June that it was "impressive". He added, "My first comment was that this is not a Eurofighter; it appeared to be a completely different aircraft when you pushed [it] to the allowed limits of the flight tests."

The company achieved these improvements with just three small modifications to the aircraft's control surfaces and an update to the aircraft's flight control software. Speaking to IHS Jane's , Gerhard Gabriel, co-leader on the AMK project, said "That's part of the science and the art of it - to make them small. It's easy to make big things work, it's difficult to make small things work, so that's the main achievement of this."

The largest of these was the installation of new trailing-edge flaperons on the aircraft, which are both larger and have a steeper sweep. Additionally leading-edge root extensions were added, while the fuselage strakes on the aircraft were modified.

The company has now completed 36 flight trials of Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) 7, which has been fitted with the mod kit. These were conducted from Manching, Germany, and ran from the end of October 2014 to the end of February 2015.

Beltrame added, "It was amazing to see, for example, in a split S [manoeuvre] you already see the altitude loss was tremendously less than the standard aircraft. It was very impressive. [Also] the manoeuvrability, agility, and the roll rate, because having more controlled power allows you to develop bigger roll rates at higher angles of attack … it was amazing, really amazing." He noted that, while bleed rates were a little bigger "you can easily cope with that and it's not really a degradation. We really exploited a portion of the envelope that makes the aircraft much, much better than it is now, and it's already good".

The company led work - Airbus is responsible for the aircraft's aerodynamic packages within the Eurofighter consortium - is now planned to enter an analysis phase, prior to being pitched to the Eurofighter customers. The Eurofighter is currently being upgraded in a series of capability enhancement phases, and the company is looking to get the AMK included in the next phase. Gabriel stated that "after [the] completion of the test campaign I think we are in a very good position to do a firm proposal and propose it to the customers in order to really place it into one of the next packages.… The next one we could step on would possibly be P4E." The company was so confident of the maturity and capability of the AMK package that operational pilots from Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom were invited to take part in the trials, and did so.

Gabriel stated that Airbus had "spent a lot of money" on the AMK, with this guided by the belief that "there's sleeping potential in the aircraft, it's already a very, very good aircraft with excellent performance, but we believed that there is still even more in it". There were two principal aims behind it: firstly to maintain or increase the Typhoon's air-to-air capabilities against current and future aircraft; and secondly to improve the swing-role capability of the aircraft while carrying heavy air-to-ground stores.

The modification has been designed to be applicable to all existing Eurofighters, or to newbuild aircraft, and require the absolute minimum amount of changes to the aircraft. Indeed Gabriel stated that installing the AMK required only four holes to be drilled in the aircraft: two on either side to fit the leading-edge root extensions.

Meanwhile, on 17 July Eurofighter announced that consortium members BAE Systems in the United Kingdom and Alenia Aermacchi in Italy were conducting ground trials in preparation for additional flight trials of the MBDA Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missile on the Typhoon. According to Eurofighter, "The UK-based trials will see the missile being released from Italian IPA2 aircraft in order to collect safe weapons separation trajectory data and to verify the correct release sequence of the missile."

The consortium also announced on 17 July that the 438 Eurofighters delivered had now logged more than 300,000 flight hours.
Eurofighter trials new Typhoon enhancements - IHS Jane's 360
 

Susimi

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Pretty nice upgrade package.

Is there any talks on making the Eurofighter carrier capable? It sort of seems like a logic move seeing as the Rafale, which is very similar in design, can operate from a carrier.
 

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