And despite the rather controversial reputation of the Typhoon in the Eurofighter consortium, they really have every reason to believe so and are quite confident to talk about it in view of the realities of the defense market.
The Eurofighter GmbH consortium is confident of quite significant orders for its Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, estimating them at 150-200 machines in the next two years alone.
The general director of the consortium Giancarlo Mezzanatto [Giancarlo Mezzanatto], who was appointed to the position in May of this year, proved his rather confident vision of the future of Eurofighter in his “programmatic” interview after taking office.
He noted that currently, the main task is to keep the Eurofighter Typhoon in operation until 2060, which is quite a large-scale task considering the presence of two European projects of the sixth generation aircraft at one time. We are talking about the British-Japanese-Italian Tempest, which has already changed its name to the Global Combat Air Platform (GCAP) and the German-French Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
At the same time, the first flight of Tempest should take place already in 2028, and the first machines will enter into operation in 2035. The available FCAS timelines are still actively moving to the right and are approximately 2030 for the first flight and 2040 for entry into operation.
“The Typhoon at this stage of its life cycle requires a mid-life upgrade. In our view, this will not be just a technological upgrade but rather a path to a long-term evolution that will allow us to bridge the gap with 6th-generation fighters in Europe. Eurofighter GmbH and our companies – partners in Europe have already started initial studies, and we plan to start the technological maturity phase with basic operators in early 2024,” said Giancarlo Mezzanatto.
But currently, the company is implementing the P3Ec Step 3 upgrade package, which should then smoothly transition to P4E, which will include the integration of the ECRS Mk2 radar, which should replace the Captor E-Scan, as well as the integration of the new German-made EW system.
It should be noted that BAE Systems and Leonardo conducted the contract for developing the ECRS Mk2 radar, and the contract for supplying a new radar from the Ministry of Defense of Great Britain is valued at $1 billion.
And already at the Paris Air Show Le Bourget, the head of the consortium, as Defense24 writes, already announced plans to expand the order to 150-200 machines.
And from the side of Defense Express, we should note that Giancarlo Mezzanatto’s words are quite optimistic. The fact is that Eurofighter does not have the best reputation. This is due to the fact that the machine itself was conceived in the 70s as a real European aircraft, but the project collapsed very quickly, and France created its own Rafale, which took to the skies 8 years earlier.
Created with the realities of the Cold War in mind, in the 90s, the Eurofighter did not receive an appropriate order package. Moreover, it was not a full-fledged fighter of the 4+ generation, receiving the appropriate capabilities only at the 2006 level by installing the Litening III laser target illumination container. And the full ability to hit the entire range of targets was achieved only in 2014 with the P1Eb upgrade and the ability to use the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile from MBDA.
And so it turned out that maintaining the combat capabilities of the machine at the modern level turned out to be a rather complicated and lengthy process, which was divided into Tranches, batches of machines, which in turn fought for internal Phase updates and separate Block modernizations, to which separate internal directions of modernization of countries were also added – operators.
And many operator countries simply did not have time to update their machines and in the end, spent a lot of money so that few people wanted to learn about the appearance of a new version of the Eurofighter a year later. And an excellent example of this process is just another update of the radar with ECRS Mk2 in conditions where the installation of Captor E-Scan began only in 2020.
Along with the need for constant modernization, the fighter has a high cost of flight hours and general operation. In Austria, in particular, it was calculated that 15 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft operation for 30 years costs from 4.4 to 5.1 billion euros.
But why, even under these conditions, the Eurofighter consortium is confident of a fairly good future for its machine is quite simple to explain. Countries now need to upgrade their air forces and increase the number of aircraft. At the same time, in conditions where the option to purchase from the Russian Federation does not apply. In addition, numerous countries that relied on Soviet-Russian aviation are now actively deciding what to do next.
And in these conditions, the Eurofighter remains one of the available options, especially one of the few offers of a nominally “medium fighter,” which objectively has advantages over the lighter F-16, JAS 39 Gripen and Rafale.