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Typhoon

Typhoon (Aircraft / Planes)

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Eurofighter Typhoon

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine canard-delta wing multirole aircraft. It is being designed and built by a consortium of three separate partner companies: Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems, and EADS working through a holding company Eurofighter GmbH which was formed in 1986 (32 years ago). The project is managed by NETMA (NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency) which acts as the prime customer.

The series production of the Eurofighter Typhoon is underway, and the aircraft is being procured under three separate contracts (referred to as "tranches"), each for aircraft with generally improved capabilities. The aircraft has entered service with the British Royal Air Force, the German Luftwaffe, the Italian Aeronautica Militare, the Spanish Air Force and the Austrian Air Force. Saudi Arabia has signed a £4.43 billion (approx. €6.4 billion c. 2007 (11 years ago)) contract for 72 aircraft.

Development

The UK had identified a requirement for a new fighter as early as 1971 (47 years ago). A specification, AST 403, issued by the Air Staff in 1972 (46 years ago), resulted in a conventional "tailed" design known as P.96, which was presented in the late 1970 (48 years ago). While the design would have met the Air Staff's requirements, the UK air industry had reservations as it appeared to be very similar to the F/A-18 Hornet, which was then well advanced in its development. The design had little potential for future growth, and when it entered production it would secure few exports in a market in which the Hornet would be well established. Simultaneously, by 1979 (39 years ago) the West German requirement for a new fighter had led to the development of the TKF-90 concept. This was a cranked delta wing design with forward canard controls and artificial stability. Although the British Aerospace designers rejected some of its advanced features such as vectoring engine nozzles and vented trailing-edge controls, they agreed with the overall configuration.

In 1979 (39 years ago) British Aerospace and Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm presented a formal proposal to their respective governments for the ECF, the European Collaborative Fighter or European Combat Fighter. In Oct. 1979 (39 years ago) Dassault joined the ECF team for a tri-national study, which became known as the European Combat Aircraft. It was at this stage of development that the Eurofighter name was first attached to the aircraft. The development of different national prototypes continued. France produced the ACX. The UK produced two designs; the P.106 was a single-engined "lightweight" fighter, superficially resembling the JAS 39 Gripen, the P.110 was a twin-engined fighter. The P.106 concept was rejected by the RAF, on the grounds that it had "half the effectiveness of the two-engined aircraft at two thirds of the cost". West Germany continued to refine the TFK-90 concept. The ECA project collapsed in 1981 (37 years ago) for several reasons including differing requirements, Dassault's insistence on "design leadership" and the British preference for a new version of the RB199 to power the aircraft versus the French preference for the new SNECMA M88.

As a result the Panavia partners (BAe, MBB and Aeritalia) launched the Agile Combat Aircraft (ACA) programme in Apr. 1982 (36 years ago). The ACA was very similar to the BAe P.110, having a cranked delta wing, canards and a twin tail. One major external difference was the replacement of the side mounted engine intakes with a chin intake. The ACA was to be powered by a modified version of the RB199. The German and Italian governments withdrew funding, however the UK Ministry of Defence agreed to fund 50% of the cost with the remaining 50% to be provided by industry. MBB and Aeritalia signed up with the aim of producing two aircraft, one at Warton and one by MBB. In May 1983 (35 years ago) BAe announced a contract with the MoD for the development and production of an ACA demonstrator, the Experimental Aircraft Programme.

In 1983 (35 years ago) the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain launched the Future European Fighter Aircraft (FEFA) programme. The aircraft was to have Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) capabilities. In 1984 (34 years ago) France reiterated its requirement for a carrier-capable version and demanded a leading role. The UK, West Germany and Italy opted out and established a new EFA programme.

In Turin on 2 Aug. 1985 (33 years ago) Italy, West Germany and the UK agreed to go ahead with the Eurofighter. The announcement of this agreement confirmed that France, along with Spain, had chosen not to proceed as a member of the project. Despite pressure from France, Spain rejoined the Eurofighter project in early sep. 1985 (33 years ago). France officially withdrew from the project to pursue its own ACX project, which was to become the Dassault Rafale.

Also in 1985 (33 years ago) the BAe EAP was rolled out at BAe Warton, by this time also funded by MBB and BAe itself. The EAP first flew on 6 Aug. 1986 (32 years ago). The Eurofighter bears a strong resemblance to the EAP. Design work continued over the next five years using data from the EAP. Initial requirements were: UK: 250 aircraft, Germany: 250, Italy: 165 and Spain: 100. The share of the production work was divided among the countries in proportion to their projected procurement - British Aerospace (33%), DASA (33%), Aeritalia (21%), and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) (13%).

1986 also saw the establishment of the Munich based Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH to manage development of the project and EuroJet Turbo GmbH, the alliance of Rolls-Royce, MTU Aero Engines, FiatAvio (now Avio) and ITP for development of the EJ200. The aircraft was known as Eurofighter EFA from the late 1980 (38 years ago) until it was renamed EF 2000 (18 years ago) in 1992 (26 years ago).

By 1990 (28 years ago) the selection of the aircraft's radar had become a major stumbling block. The UK, Italy and Spain supported the Ferranti Defence Systems-led ECR-90, while Germany preferred the APG-65 based MSD2000 (a collaboration between Hughes (of the USA), AEG and GEC-Marconi). An agreement was reached after UK Defence Secretary Tom King assured his West German counterpart Gerhard Stoltenberg that the British government would underwrite the project and allow GEC to acquire Ferranti Defence Systems from its troubled parent. GEC thus withdrew its support for the MSD2000.


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