A multi-role combat aircraft, capable of being deployed in the full spectrum of air operations, from air policing, to peace support, through to high intensity conflict.
Typhoon provides the RAF with a multi-role combat aircraft, capable of being deployed in the full spectrum of air operations, from air policing, to peace support, through to high intensity conflict. It is currently employed on ops in the Falkland Islands and UK QRA.
Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain formally agreed to start development of the aircraft in 1988 with contracts for a first batch of 148 aircraft – of which 53 were for the RAF – signed ten years later. Deliveries to the RAF started in 2003 to 17(R) Sqn who were based at BAE Systems Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire (alongside the factory where the aircraft were assembled) while detailed development and testing of the aircraft was carried out. Formal activation of the first Typhoon Squadron at RAF Coningsby occurred on the 1st Jul 2005. The aircraft took over responsibility for UK QRA on 29 Jun 2007 and was formally declared as an advanced Air Defence platform on 1 Jan 2008.
Initial production aircraft of the F2 Tranche 1 standard were capable of air-to-air roles only and were the first Typhoons to hold UK QRA duties. In order to fulfill a potential requirement for Typhoon to deploy to Op HERRICK, urgent single-nation work was conducted on Tranche 1 to develop an air-to-ground capability in 2008. Tranche 1 aircraft were declared as multi-role in Jul 2008, gaining the designation FGR4 (T3 2-seat variant), fielding the Litening Laser Designator Pod and Paveway 2, Enhanced Paveway 2 and 1000lb freefall class of weapons. Only a handful of F2/T1 aircraft remain, these will be upgraded to FGR4/T3 by the end of 2012. Tranche 2 aircraft deliveries commenced under the 4-nation contract in 2008, in the air-to-air role only. These aircraft were deployed to the Falkland Islands to take-over duties from the Tornado F3 in Sep 09. Currently, upgrades to Tranche 2 continue as part of the main contract, with air-to-ground capability expected in 2012.
A total of 53 Tranche 1 aircraft were delivered, with Tranche 2 contract provisioning for 91 aircraft. 24 of these were diverted to fulfill the RSAF export campaign, leaving 67 Tranche 2 aircraft due for delivery to the RAF. The Tranche 3 contract has been signed and will deliver 40 aircraft. With the Tranche 1 aircraft fleet due to retire over the period 2015-18, this will leave 107 Typhoon aircraft in RAF service until 2030.
Future weapons integration will include Meteor air-to-air missile, Paveway IV, Storm Shadow, Brimstone and Small Diameter Bomb. Additionally, it is intended to upgrade the radar to an Active Electronically Scanned Array.
The Typhoon is currently operated from RAF Coningsby by XI(F) Squadron with a deatchment to 1435 Flight at RAF Mount Pleasant on the Falkland Islands.