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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

25 February 2015

IDEX 2015: Eurofighter bullish about future contracts

Speaking to media on Monday, Alberto Gutierrez, CEO of the Eurofighter consortium expressed confidence about future sales. "Eurofighter is one of the most compefitive aircraft in the world", Gutierrez explained. He continued: "despite the fact that the international competition is getting bigger, we will win some contracts". He went on to say that Eurofighter is a proven system with  more than 420 aircraft having been delivered so far. Operated by seven customers, these aircraft have amassed more than 274,000 flying hours. In addition to the NETMA countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom), the multirole fighter is used by Austria and Saudi Arabia while Oman will get its first Eurofighters in 2017. Testpilot Anthony "Foxy" Gregory of BAE Systems explained how Sunday's signing of the Phase Three Capability Enhancement (P3E) contract by representatives of the Eurofighter consortium and the four NETMA countries will turn Eurofighter into a full swingrole combat aircraft. With the MBDA Brimstone 2 low yield weapon now being integrated, Eurofighter's ability to strike targets with precision will be significantly enhanced while limiting the risk of collateral damage at the same time. Fitted with a small warhead, Brimstone 2 is guided by means of semi-active laser while terminal guidance is done by millimeter wave radar. This will enable Eurofighter to engage fast moving targets with success. Other upgrades that are part of the P3E package include enhancements to the lethality and engagement envelopes of Storm Shadow, Paveway IV and Meteor while an improved version of ASRAAM will be fielded. Exemplary of Eurofighter's swingrole capability, once P3E has been implemented, the aircraft will have a load out that could include six Brimstone missiles, six Paveway guided bombs, two Storm Shadow long range stand off weapons, four Meteor BVR air-to-air missiles as well as two IRIS-T or ASRAAM short range air-to-air missiles, a clear sign that the capability roadmap is delvering, according to Gutierrez. The enhancement package is scheduled for delivery in 2017.

The EUR 200 milion P3E deal will also lead to improvements with regard to MRO and simulation and training aspects of the Eurofighter aircraft. Gutierrez explained that a number of life cycle advantages have been developed that are aimed at reducing life cylcle costs. Based on the experience with the aircraft's availability and maintainability that was built up over years, it has been decided to start conducting phased maintenance at 500 hours instead of 400 hours and this figure is planned to go up to 600 in the near future. "This makes the aircraft more affordable", Gutierrez said, hereby increasing the competitiveness of Eurofighter. Asked about which countries the Eurofighter consortium is targeting when it comes to future sales, Gutierrez indicated that he was looking at  Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Bahrain. With regard to the UAE, he said that "despite there being no negotations at the moment, Eurofighter is ready to offer a proposal". "Foxy" Gregory meanwhile emphasised the fact that "Eurofighter is the backbone of a number of major European air forces. This leads to it getting priority in funding". This is indeed an important prerequisite for future upgrades which would include a number of enhancements beyond P3E including the integration of the Captor E-Scan AESA multimode radar and anti FIAC capability delivered by Brimstone. Phase Four Capability Enhancement is meanwhile in its definition phase. Dubbed P1E and P2E, previous enhancement programmes entailed the introduction of a laser designator pod, either Litening III or Damocles, and the development of deep attack and BVR capabilities respectively. The latter upgrade enables the stand-off targeting of buried, high value targets through the addition of Storm Shadow while also encompassing additional cockpit interface developments and Meteor integration.
Pieter Bastiaans

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