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DSEI 2019: Eurofighter looks to stand out from Tempest’s shadow

11th September 2019 - 10:10 GMT | by Tim Martin in London

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Not be to outdone by its future successor Tempest, the long-running Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon programme is moving through a series of airframe and cockpit-based changes that will strengthen its weapons management and survivability capabilities.  

An RAF test and evaluation squadron assessment of the Striker II helmet mounted display, integration of a new joint tactical radio system, and a continuation of flight tests to mature E-scan radar performance at RAF Warton, are all looked upon, by the company, as central to delivering greater protection to the frontline - though a firm order for Striker II is yet to be completed.

The airbase is also being used for Litening 5 targeting pod tests, according to Paul Smith, aircrew adviser at BAE Systems.

‘It has a very highly developed moving target tracking capability so it can track multiple ground and air targets simultaneously,’ he explained.

Using Striker II, pilots can pinpoint and engage targets of interest, differentiating between friendly and enemy forces, with additional features including risk estimate distances of a selected weapon.

Ground moving target identification is supported by the E-Scan radar and if necessary, a pilot can cross-coordinate with other sensors, should an earlier designated target be lost, to find it again, Smith shared.

Weapons already integrated under the RAF’s Project Centurion programme include MBDA’s Meteor, Storm Shadow, Spear, Brimstone.

‘In a later iteration of the [Spear EW variant] we would expect to be able to datalink to the weapon,’ Smith revealed, though did not confirm when such a capability would be trialled.

‘We have more effective and more accurate RF [computer-based] models [to test new weapons capabilities] and we do that in conjunction with our customers,’ Smith told Shephard. ‘In particular with Spear for the UK customer, we work with DSTL [Defence and Science Technology Laboratory], air defence intelligence, as well as our own intelligence.’

Aside from newer capabilities, Germany is set to replace Tranche 1 Typhoon hardware with Tranche 2 systems as part of a recapitalisation programme, with a move to put that piece of business on contract – for a first batch at least – likely to happen ‘by this year’ Smith explained.

A decision to add additional Eurofighter aircraft or select Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet as a Tornado replacement remains outstanding for Germany, though Smith did not comment on when a contract award would be issued. 

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