Since entering service in 2003, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon has been the backbone of combat air defense for the UK, flying more operational hours than ever before by 2022.
Eurofighters Typhoon covers a full spectrum of air operations, including aerial surveillance, peace support and high-intensity conflict.
The aircraft is now in the middle of its useful life and must evolve to remain relevant in the rapidly changing landscape of modern warfare.
“All military aircraft are constantly evolving; they typically follow an S-curve in terms of their capability,” explains BAE Systems test pilot Andrew Mallery-Blythe.
“What that means is that when they first go into service, they tend to be pretty immature and get better as new capabilities are added.
“It tends to be pretty gradual early in the aircraft’s life, but then there’s an acceleration of new capabilities as they’re added, and you get to a steeper part of that S-curve, and that’s when it really gets more interesting and exciting for a platform.
“We are really at the steep end of the curve for the Typhoon now and have been for a number of years.
“So some really exciting capabilities have just been added and will continue to be added for years to come,” said Andrew Mallery-Blythe. One of those capabilities is to improve the range of the Typhoons.
BAE Systems is working on developing autonomous platforms that could fly alongside the aircraft.
The platforms could carry reconnaissance packs, a suite of cameras or other sensors, as well as electronic attack payloads to help suppress enemy air defenses.
In the future, they could also be loaded with air-to-surface or air-to-air weapons, which would still be controlled by a human but fired from a remote platform.
BAE is funding this project in the belief that this technology has a place in the RAF fleet of the future.
In recent years, the Typhoon has been upgraded with Storm Shadow, Brimstone and Meteor missiles and will soon receive a new radar that will allow it to simultaneously detect, identify and track multiple targets in the air and on the ground.