It has been around the news sources this week but at long last the Phase 2 Evolution contract has been signed between Eurofighter and the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA).
The series of enhancements will start being fielded from 2015. Many have concentrated on the pointy end stuff but it will also include a wide range of avionics improvements to allow the Flight and utility Control systems to comply with future civil aviation requirements and safety certification.
On top of Meteor integration that was announced earlier this year the P2E list includes upgrades and new systems in;
- Defensive aids systems
- CAPTOR radar
- Multi function information and distribution systems (MIDS)
EP2 is part of the wider Phase 2 Enhancement package that should include Storm Shadow, Taurus, supersonic release of Paveway IV, SDB and Brimstone integration, and when negotiations conclude between NETMA, Eurofighter and Euroradar, the CAPTOR-E AESA radar. Trials of a number of these are ongoing but final contracts have yet to be announced.
The Typhoon is a complicated aircraft programme to follow. Tranche 2 has two phases, Phase 1A and 1B or P1EA and P1EB. The Phase 2 Evolution builds on these. The pipeline of Tranche 3A includes increased fuel capacity, fuel dump valves, airframe provision for conformal fuel tanks and the heavier E-Scan AESA radar and an improved data bus.
Just to be clear, Phase 2 Evolution does not include CAPTOR-E, Brimstone or Storm Shadow, they will come in the Phase 2 Enhancement programme, contracts pending.
With further opportunities in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, South Korea and others there is still much life in Typhoon but the partner nations have no doubt retarded export success by the glacial pace of development, trumpeting integration of Brimstone or a new display is hardly red letter day stuff, they should have been in place for a long time.
The UK should recognise the qualities of the F35 and what it will deliver, no doubt, but lets not forget Typhoon is an extremely effective aircraft, still has bags of growth with sufficient funding and could have great success in the export market but the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.