ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only, or two in tandem in trainer
ARMAMENT: One 27mm Mauser cannon. 13 hardpoints can carry AIM-120, Skyflash, Future MRAAM, Aspide, AIM-9 or ASRAAM AAMs, and a variety of air-to-ground ordnance.
HISTORY: The Eurofighter Typhoon is one of Europe's most drawn out, controversial and expensive collaborative aircraft development programs.
In December 1983 the air chiefs of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK signed an air staff requirement for a new multirole fighter, leading to the launch of an initial feasibility study in July 1984. In 1985 France took the controversial step of leaving the studies to develop its own, slighter smaller fighter, which resulted in the Rafale.
The Eurofighter consortium was then formed in June 1986 to manage the European Fighter Aircraft (or EFA) program. Development work share is split to Germany and the UK 33% each, Italy 21% and Spain 13%. The specific concept of the EFA, a medium size (9.5 tonne) air superiority fighter with considerable air-to-ground capabilities was formalised in December 1987.
By this time BAe had flown its EAP (Experimental Aircraft Programme) technology demonstrator. The EAP is of similar overall configuration (canard delta with fly-by-wire) to the Eurofighter and the results from its five year flight test program have played an important part in Eurofighter development.
In 1992 Germany's new defence minister reacted to the EFA's extremely high $US83m approx system unit price and threatened to withdraw Germany from the program unless ways were found of containing costs. Various variants of the EFA were proffered (including a single engine development), however in the end Germany decided on fewer numbers of a lower spec version of the relaunched Eurofighter Eurofighter Typhoon, featuring reduced capability or off the shelf equipment.
Controversy over the Eurofighter Typhoon overshadows the fact that is should prove to be a highly capable fighter. Features include its specifically developed EJ200 engines (developed by Rolls-Royce, MTU, Fiat Avio and ITP of Spain), ECR90 radar (although German aircraft will most likely feature the APG-65), an infrared search and tracking system (IRST), an advanced Defensive Aids SubSystems or DASS, at least in British and Italian aircraft, and an advanced cockpit.
The Eurofighter Typhoon's first flight occurred on March 29 1994, after much delay. Britain still requires 250 Eurofighter Typhoons, Germany about 130, Italy 130, and Spain 87. Service entry is planned for 2002.