Eurofighter is a single-seat, twin-engine, agile combat aircraft which will be used in the air-to-air, air-to-ground and tactical reconnaissance roles. The design of Eurofighter Typhoon is optimized for air dominance performance with high instantaneous and sustained turn rates, and specific excess power. Special emphasis has been placed on low wing loading, high thrust to weight ratio, excellent all round vision and carefree handling. The use of Stealth technology is incorporated throughout the aircraft’s basic design.
In September 1998 the Eurofighter was also designated the Typhoon, though this nomenclature is intended only for use in export markets outside Europe. Eurofighter remains the official name in Europe, and Typhoon will not automatically be the EF2000s name with the four partner air forces when it enters service in 2002/3.
Eurofighter's air dominance supremacy and versatility as a multi-role combat aircraft is marked by its highly potent and comprehensive air-to-surface attack capability:
• Air Interdiction - capable of delivering a large payload over long distances, by day or night. Multiple, flexible sensors coupled with passive modes of delivery, and the retention of a full air-to-air fit ensure a formidable weapon system
• Close Air Support - ability to remain on task for long periods. Its sophisticated sensor suite allows close co-ordination with ground commanders, and the identification of individual targets
• Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) - the combination of pinpoint navigational accuracy, highly sophisticated onboard sensors and dedicated 'fire and forget' weapons, ensure effective targeting of enemy air defences
• Maritime Attack - dedicated radar modes and datalink enable Eurofighter Typhoon to operate autonomously, or as part of an offensive force
Eurofighter’s high performance is matched by excellent all round vision and by sophisticated attack, identification and defence systems which include the ECR 90 long range radar and Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) system, advanced medium and short range air-to-air missiles and a comprehensive electronic warfare suite to enhance weapon system effectiveness and survivability. Eurofighter Typhoon is intentionally aerodynamically unstable to provide extremely high levels of agility, reduced drag and enhanced lift. The unstable design cannot be flown by conventional means and the pilot controls the aircraft via a computerized ‘fly by wire’ system.
The Eurojet EJ200 military turbofan was designed specifically to match Eurofighter Typhoon’s mission requirements. The overall design ensures a small lightweight engine with the thrust and strength to match the typically on demand reheat temperatures generated during combat. The EJ200 engine combines high thrust with low fuel consumption. To reduce ownership cost over Eurofighter Typhoon’s in-service life of 25 years or 6,000 flying hours, and to ensure maximum availability, the important areas of Reliability, Maintainability and Testability have been given equal priority to performance and flight safety.
Since Eurofighter first flew in Germany on 27 March 1994 all seven development aircraft have flown. Aircraft in the flight test programme have completed over 790 sorties (658 hours). Full carefree handling and a speed of Mach 2.0 have been achieved as have air to air refuelling and weapons firings of Sidewinder and AMRAAM. Pilots have described the aircraft as 'exhilarating' to fly.
Eurofighter production will make use of several innovations in production engineering. These include the use of a modern integrated design, manufacturing and management systems and the introduction of automated processes for the production of a number of aircraft components.