INNOVATION FUTURE EQUIPMENT
improvements, such as upgrades to the radar, the EuroDASS consortium’s Praetorian defensive aids system suite (DASS) and targeting pods. P2Eb covers the integration of the MBDA Meteor advanced beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. According to Duguid, these enhancements will not only increase threat awareness and pilot safety, but also improve Typhoon’s targeting capabilities. P3E will bring the MBDA Storm Shadow long-range cruise missile and MBDA Brimstone 2 (with a dual-mode seeker) closeair-support weapon into service on RAF Typhoons.
INTRODUCING THE AESA RADAR Duguid notes that the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) published in November 2015 confirmed that integration of the Selex ES Captor-E radar with an advanced electronically-scanned array (AESA) – known within the RAF as the E-scan radar – would go ahead. This, he says, “replaces the mechanical scan with an electronic scanning antenna, as well as bringing with it significant processing power”. Expected in the early 2020s, this takes radar technology to a whole new paradigm. The one element of Tornado capability not yet in the Typhoon upgrade programme is a tactical reconnaissance capability to replace the existing RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for Tornado) pod. The RAF is currently investigating various options, including pod-mounted or internal systems. In the interim, Duguid points out that the existing Captor radar can produce useable imagery through the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode, and pictures can also be extracted from full-motion video produced by the Rafael Litening III advanced targeting pod. The 2015 SDSR also indicated that the RAF would form a further two Typhoon squadrons by delaying the out-of-service date (OSD) of Tranche-1 aircraft. According to Duguid, this will amount to about 30 aircraft, which will be absorbed into the overall fleet. Although they will have ground attack CPL DAVE BLACKBURN / CROWN COPYRIGHT
he RAF’s Typhoon Force comprises three units at Coningsby – 3, 11 and 29 Squadrons – as well as 41 (Reserve) Squadron, which is the RAF’s Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit. There are a further three units at RAF Lossiemouth: 1, 2 and 6 Squadrons; plus 1435 Flight with four aircraft in the Falkland Islands. There is also a detachment of Typhoons on rotation at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, in support of Operation Shader, which has been flying operations over Iraq and Syria since December 2015. In April 2016, the RAF deployed a detachment of Typhoons to Estonia in support of the NATO Air Policing mission there. The Typhoon Force comprises some 90 operational aircraft, with another 30-plus aircraft involved in development work or various stages of maintenance and upgrade. Initially introduced as a fighter/interceptor aircraft, the planned development of Typhoon has seen it gradually assume increasing levels of groundattack capability. Some 48 aircraft are Tranche-1 standard (able to deliver Enhanced Paveway II precision-guided munitions or PGMs). The rest are the subsequent Tranche-2 aircraft, which are able to use the UK-developed Paveway IV PGW. All single-seat Typhoons are now designated FGR4 (Fighter, Ground Attack, Reconnaissance Mk.4) models, with the two-seat dual-control variants being Trainer Mks.1A and 3, depending on exact configuration. In early April 2016, the RAF accepted the first of its Tranche-3 aircraft. According to Air Commodore Ian Duguid, the focus is now on getting the Typhoon fleet through Project Centurion by December 2018, when they will become multi-role/swing-role strike fighters, able to assume the strike capabilities of the Tornado GR4. This will allow the latter’s withdrawal from service in 2019. The process involves implementation of the Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) package, the first element of which (P2Ea) incorporates software and avionics
RAF Typhoons at Ämari air base in Estonia, part of a detachment sent to support NATO’s Air Policing mission in the country
INSPIRATION AND INNOVATION AIR POWER 2016
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