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The Real Eurofighter

by Jim "Twitch" Tittle

Article Type: Real Military
Article Date: May 22, 2001

Small is Good

Eurofighter EF-2000

With the F-22 well along and the X-32 in the wings another 21st century fighter is coming with them. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH in Munich is owned by BAe Systems in England, CASA of Spain, Alenia Aerospazio of Italy, Aerospatiale-MATRA of France and several subsidiaries are working on the project. A total of 620 aircraft is optimistically envisioned for the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain, with 148 solid orders that will enter service in 2002. Greece wants sixty to ninety planes by 2005. The early 1980’s program saw first flight in 1986, and in today’s form, 1994. Flight tests this year have confirmed Mach 1.6 and missile launchings have proved successful.

By all accounts it is on par with the F-22 in most respects being mindful that European air forces have slightly different wants that the USAF. The EF-2000 is much smaller than the F-22, however. It’s more on par with the Boeing X-32. Small is good.

2 Engines 1 Seat

Two Eurojet EJ 2000 engines of 20,000 lbs will give the single-seater a 1,321 MPH top speed at 36,090 feet-on the order of Mach 2.0 and will supercruise without afterburning at 13,500 lbs. thrust. Each engine weighs less than 2,300 lbs. Fiat of Italy, MTU of Germany, Rolls-Royce of the UK and SENER of Spain will jointly construct them. Combat radius is on the order of 966 miles and 2,550 miles ferry range. Climb to 35,000 feet is supposed to be accomplished in 2.5 minutes. The EF-2000 has reached 38,000 feet in tests and a ceiling of 50,000 feet in not unreasonable.

The airframe is composed of a high proportion of advanced metal alloys consisting of aluminum lithium, titanium and aluminum casting plus carbon fibre composites and glass-reinforced plastic. It will be 9g rated. Dimensions are a 34.5 foot wingspan with a length of 47.5 feet. Wing area, including the canard, is 564 sq. ft.

The EF-2000 will have STOL ability allowing for less than a 1,000 foot take-off run and less than 2,300 feet to land. Its small canard foreplane will improve handling stability at all velocities.

Empty weight is about 21,495 lbs. while maximum loaded is 46,297 lbs. Stores will weigh between 14,300-17,600lbs. and will be hung on nine hardpoints (one centerline, six underwing and two wingtip) Four further semi-recessed underfuselage points will carry missiles.

Mach 2 Capable

Weapons & Electronics

Air-to-air configurations will use BVR AAM, ASRAAM (short range), AIM-9L and the excellent 27mm Mauser BK27 cannon in the starboard forward fuselage. Air-to-surface weaponry will consist of 1,000 lb. unguided bombs, BL 755 Cluster Bombs, DWS 37 anti-armor missiles and GBU 10/16 Laser Guided Bombs. In the future it will carry the new Brimstone air-to-surface missile and a score of other weapons in development now.

The huge factor in future weaponry will be off boresight that the Brimstone offers. The BAe Systems HMS system will allow the pilot to look through the helmet sight reticule in any direction and launch the weapon and guide it with an active radar seeker unit made by Alenia Marconi Systems. The F-22 and X-32 systems ultimately plan to use this type of system as well. This concept will herald other missile types, such as short-range air-to-air. Look at the enemy at 2 o’clock. Shoot and the missile turns towards him as you continue flying straight ahead. There is almost no minimum range for the close-in missiles. The system immediately maneuvers the missiles to target after launch. Long-range shots are guided with transfer alignment harmonized with the missile’s inertial system.

The HUD will show the flight reference data, weapon aiming and cueing, and FLIR imagery. HDD is multi-function and reads in color showing the tactical situation, systems status and map displays.

The pilot's control HOTAS fly-by wire system is a VTAS system with twenty-four fingertip controls housed on the stick and throttle tops for sensor and weapon control, defense aids management and in-flight handling. The Direct Voice Input allows the pilot to carry out mode selection and data entry procedures that use voice command. It sounds sci-fi but the technology is here now.

The Luftwaffe’s JG 73 “Steinhoff” squadron tested the CAPTOR ECS 90 radar in a multi-target, heavy clutter and heavy interference engagement with MiG 29s and F-4Fs satisfactorily providing up to twenty “enemy” aircraft’s tracks. For unknown reasons Germany will probably use the excellent APG-65 radar.

A look-down/shoot-down capability exists as does terrain-following. Where kills were lost in Viet Nam era jets due to enemy aircraft flying low with radars unable to get a lock due to ground clutter, the EF-2000 will have today’s edge in this area.

Survivability is further enhanced by the inclusion of a fully integrated DASS, as part of its avionics system. DASS presents the pilot with crucial and prioritized threat assessments, allowing for automatic or manual response to multiple threats with ECM, ESM, missile approach warning, laser warning, and chaff/flare dispensers.

Today’s and tomorrow’s fighters have two performance goals. They must be agile enough to mix it up close-in. They must have weapons systems that allow BVR detection and the ability to follow up with a missile shot before the opponent’s is capable of launching.

The EF-2000 is highly maneuverable in sonic and sub-sonic flight and has short-range missiles plus the cannon. BVR contacts at over seventy miles away will be assessed and prioritized from info gleaned by the radar and IR sensors. The plane would then close at high speed, fire, and break away to avoid enemy missiles and the DASS would employ whatever countermeasures are needed based on the range of the enemy threat.

Has All The Techno-Goodies

Semi-Stealthy Survivability

The Eurofighter does not claim to be a super stealthy aircraft but it does have a favorably small radar cross section and low engine emission signatures. Its low IR cross section is thanks to the composite materials used. Using passive systems data is obtained, fed into the computer and analyzed, then best course of pilot action is suggested for manual or automatic response. Broadcasting powerful radar beacons is not stealthy and today’s passive data gathering systems are.

The EF-2000, like its American counterpart the F-22, will be able to take a lot of shots with its thirteen hardpoints. Up to ten assorted AAMs will be carried. This is certainly a step up from Viet Nam era weaponry on fighters that carried perhaps only four AAMs or six at most. Plus the Mauser cannon will provide increased kill probability when and if the fight comes down to a saloon brawl. The BK 27 packs a good punch though number of rounds is unknown at this time. 300 rounds would ideally give a bit under four seconds firing time. The ACS manages weapon selection and firing plus monitors status. Nuclear weapons are capable of being delivered.

All of its tactical components are dispersed around the airframe like the F-22’s. Without clustering them survival rate increases if damage is taken. The extreme maneuverability may make it the Zero of tomorrow: able to flick out of the sights of a close range gun-carrying enemy plane.

With all-weather, multi-role abilities in a tiny, maneuverable package, the Eurofighter Typhoon is just the tool for the job in tomorrow’s Europe. All the air forces involved seem to thinks so too. How many will be made remains to be seen since almost all new aircraft programs get trimmed and total production is revised. A figure of $50 million USD per copy is the figure as of now.

It will be the first single-seat fighter since the English Electric Lightning. With today’s advanced management systems, capable of being controlled by one crewman, back-seaters may be history.

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