MRCA: Unlocking Typhoon’s Full Potential

Breaking News: Dassault Aviation today (April 30, 2015) announced that Qatar is to acquire 24 Rafales. The deal is to be signed on May 4.

SHAH ALAM: The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies has come out with a report titled “Maximising European Combat Air Power Unlocking the Eurofighter’s Full Potential”.

The report is written by Justin Bronk, a research analyst specialising in air power and technology in the Military Sciences team at RUSI. He holds an MSc in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA (Hons) in History from York University.

2011 Competition winner Ian Ramsbottom’s photo of an RAF 17 Sqn Typhoon low level flying in the Mach Loop valleys in Wales, UK. Credit: Eurofighter, Ian Ramsbottom.
2011 Competition winner Ian Ramsbottom’s photo of an RAF 17 Sqn Typhoon low level flying in the Mach Loop valleys in Wales, UK. Credit: Eurofighter, Ian Ramsbottom.

Due to copyright issues I will be only putting some paragraphs from the report which I found relevant and interesting. You can read the full report here.

“As with the F-15, the drawbacks of this approach are high procurement and operating costs compared to lighter designs such as the F-16 and Saab Gripen. If total programme cost is divided by the number of aircraft procured then the RAF’s Typhoons cost somewhere in the region of £110 million each at current prices. Although expensive, partner nations receive an air-superiority fighter capable of outmatching all currently operational fighter aircraft in the world with the exception of the stealthy and even more expensive US F-22 Raptor.”

A CGI imagery of modular weapon launchers on the Typhoon.
A CGI imagery of modular weapon launchers on the Typhoon.

“In the early years of the Eurofighter programme, software bugs would often complicate start-up
procedures and aircraft availability. However, especially during the last five years, these issues have largely been solved and the jet has earned a reputation amongst pilots and maintenance crews for excellent reliability ‘on the ground’, helping deliver greater serviceability and operational output per
airframe and pilot.”

“However, at squadron level– especially in German and Italian service – problems remain and should be
fixed as a priority. Currently, pilots are forced to spend mental capacity coping with minor errors and trying to work around them. This limits their ability to use some of the more advanced capabilities of the platform. Furthermore, certain relatively minor deficiencies can seriously constrain the capability of
the system as a whole to function as intended.

“Live training exercises with Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighters in 2007 and 2011 were an unusual opportunity to test the Eurofighter’s WVR combat capabilities against the most advanced ‘Flanker’ then in service. The RAF Typhoons involved in the exercises were able to reliably beat the Su-30MKIs by countering the latter’s advantage in horizontal turning and high-alpha2 manoeuvres through superior acceleration and vertical manoeuvres, coupled with helmet-cued missile targeting.

Typhoon fitted with Captor E AESA radar.
Typhoon fitted with Captor E AESA radar.

“Against LO designs such as the T-50, J-20 and export-focused FC-31, the Eurofighter will struggle in the air-superiority role without CAPTOR-E, since CAPTOR-M cannot reliably detect and target such designs.
Some sources have suggested the CAPTOR-E will be capable of detecting LO designs such as the F-35 out to around 60 km and PIRATE IRST has great potential for detecting stealth designs which are, by nature, large
and hot with a correspondingly strong infrared (IR) signature. Progressive enhancements to PIRATE and the accuracy of passive location and electronic warfare capabilities through the DASS, coupled with the radar CAPTOR-E being developed for the RAF, together offer a boost to situational awareness and detection capabilities, which should make RAF Typhoons formidable opponents against even LO designs from the early 2020s.

Typhoon helmet top and side view. BAE Systems
Typhoon helmet top and side view. BAE Systems

“If investment is sustained in the mid to long term, the significant systems growth potential on top of the formidable basic airframe/engine combination, as well as upgrades to weapons systems, radar, PIRATE and the DASS, mean that the Eurofighter is capable of remaining a valuable and potent multirole asset for air forces well beyond 2030″.

A side note.
The report is mostly based on interviews conducted on site with front line Typhoon pilots from the UK, Germany and Italy. If only we can conduct such interviews with our front line personnel!

— Malaysian Defence

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