Aerospace jobs on the Fylde could hinge on new multi-million pound hi-tech upgrades for the Eurofighter Typhoon.
At a briefing for international figures at the Farnborough Airshow, one of the project’s experienced pilots said new developments coming through in the next few years will keep the versatile aircraft in service with the RAF and others until the 2060s.
The Typhoon is assembled at the BAE Systems plant at Warton and the jet is set to get a conveyor belt of new weapons, radar and software upgrades in coming years to make it the most capable multi-role aircraft in the world.
Details were realised at the airshow of the next three development phases of the aircraft which will prolong its lifespan and could result in more sales and help safeguard jobs for the thousands of skilled workers at Warton and its sister site at Samlesbury.
Paul Smith, Aircrew Advisor with BAE, said: “The Typhoon will be part of combat air capability well into the future.
“We think it will be in operation beyond 2040 into the 50s and 60s.”
The Typhoon has been in the world’s shop window, flying aerobatic displays fully laden with four Meteor beyond visual range Air to Air missiles, six Brimstone 2 ground vehicle attack missiles, two ASRAAM infra-red missiles and two Paveway IV laser guided bombs.
Mr Smith said: “This is not just a display aircraft, Typhoons are delivering real combat capability around the world today.”
He said Typhoons were in service in a air policing role in the Baltic states right up against Russian air space and were his aircraft of choice if they ever needed to come up against the best Russian jet – the SU 34 Fullback.
He said they were currently carrying out missions over Iraq and Syria including reconnaissance and ground attacks against Daesh terrorist forces and were protecting the Falkland Islands.
He said: “There is nothing that gives you the flexibility that the Typhoon gives you.”
He said with the new electronic scan radar, the new Striker 2 helmets featuring night vision and full colour visor displays which are currently being tested in the skies above the Fylde and the new weapons, the aircraft was going to be the future of the RAF for decades to come despite the impending arrival of the F35 Lightning II.
“We had the first powered release of the Stormshadow long range missile in the past few weeks, The Captor-E radar flight tests have begun following completed ground tests which has significantly more power and capability.”
He said the Typhoon was a world class airframe combined with great engines and was built to be upgraded to keep up with technology.
“There is still loads of interest in North West Europe, the Middle East and further afield.
“People recognise the jet’s great performance married to new avionics, weapons upgrades, radar upgrades. This means it is going to be relevant across the world for years to come.
“There will be a lot of work from Typhoon in the North West sustaining Typhoon for the RAF and the potential for building for other people.”
Typhoon has been bought by eight countries around the world but has been looking at new customers in Europe, the Middle East and Far East to provide ongoing work for the workforce at Warton.
As well Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain and Austria, Saudi Arabia already operates the aircraft and Kuwait and Oman have ordered the Typhoon for their air forces.
As well as the F35, the Typhoon’s direct competitors include the French Rafale, the Swedish Gripen and the US F18 Super Hornet.