Typhoon is set to be the backbone of the RAF for decades to come, a government minister has said following upgrades which will also make it more attractive to overseas buyers.
The aircraft which supports thousands of Lancashire jobs, was the subject of a briefing at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford.
The show featured a stunning air display from the USA’s megabucks stealth fighter, the F22 Raptor, and came the day after Germany and France announced they were to develop a next generation aircraft to replace the Typhoon, but Defence Procurement Minister Harriet Baldwin said despite some commentators’ concerns the Typhoon was the current market leader.
She said the Government had great enthusiasm for Typhoon as a platform because it had a reputation for reliability which was crucial to operational airforces.
She said: “It has an engine which goes for over 1,000 flying hours with needing unscheduled maintenance and it’s versatile as well - it simultaneously supports air to air and air to surface missions.
“It will form the spearpoint of the UK’s combat air capability alongside the F35 Lightning but what makes it truly special is a that supported by the ground-breaking support contract Tytan, it has the capacity to evolve.
“In the past few years we have seen the upgrading of Typhoon with leading edge weapons, Brimstone 2, which has just had its first test firing, Meteor and Stormshadow and we are enhancing its defence aids subsystem which provides missile warnings, chaff and flare dispensers to adapt the changing threat.
“The Defence Minister Sir Michael Fallon has announced a £9.5m contract to train our pilots to use the latest cockpit technology preparing them for the front line out to September 2020.
“The second reason we choose typhoon is because its strengthens the UK’s skills base. We have some 5,000 people working directly on Typhoon. With thousands more of our brightest British brains busy in the supply chain in more than 300 companies not just manufacturing but innovating everything from smart skin to carbon fibre composites and sophisticated polymers.
“The third reason that we love Typhoon is because we know this fabulous fighter will strengthen our prosperity.
“In an increasingly competitive and demanding international market its the only fighter jet on the marker able to offer such wide ranging capabilities. It has an unparalleled ability to work seamlessly with other aircraft types in combat defence surveillance and monitoring scenarios.
“It is why five European nations and three Gulf states have already chosen this aircraft.”
She said the UK along with other governments was now working to maximise Typhoon’s export potential and the Ministry of Defence was leading some of those campaigns in Europe, the Middle East or South East Asia.
Air Commodore Ian Duguid, the RAF Typhoon force commander, said it was the backbone of the RAF’s combat air capability and since July last year there had been more than 200 events that have required Typhoon activity.
He added that Number 3 fighter squadron was now deployed in Romania as well as others operating in Syria and Iraq. He said the aircraft’s reliability meant that not one mission had been missed due to technical issues.
He said this month marked the one year anniversary of the Typhoon Total Availability Enterprise, Tytan, a landmark project between MOD and BAE Systems for provision of support and maintenance for the next 10 years which has secured a saving of £550m from the 10 year support and maintenance costs and which he said would be recycled into the programme to develop future capabilities.
BAE Systems’ Military Air and Information managing director Chris Boardman said the company was now working ever closer with industrial partners, universities and with the customer the RAF with 1,500 staff permanently based at RAF bases.