Eurofighter was supposed to become the only fighter for the whole of Europe, but despite its rather good characteristics, it became a victim of collegial decisions.
The issue of Ukraine receiving modern Western fighter jets still remains, albeit at the official level, but only talk. At the same time, as US Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Brown reported, the possibility of transferring not only American aircraft, but also European fighter jets is being considered for the Armed Forces.
For each option, and we are talking about: heavy F-15the land version of the deck F/A-18light F-16French RafaleSwedish JAS 39 Gripen, UNIAN has already made a separate review. And the last hypothetical candidate is the pan-European Eurofighter.
Eurofighter – born in torment
Eurofighter Typhoon is the full name of the aircraft, it is impossible to call it a machine with an easy fate. This multifunctional fighter of the 4+ generation was born from the 70s in the idea of creating a single aircraft created by the joint efforts of the main European NATO member countries: Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Germany.
But the more countries try to agree, the more difficult it is to implement at least something. As a result, France withdrew from the project, which developed its Rafale, and the development of the Eurofighter constantly suffered from a lack of funds, changes in plans, and was almost closed due to Germany’s desire to save money against the background of the intention of other countries to redistribute the burden of funding, which even at the prototype level stretched to 180 million pounds
Added to this was the desire of governments to concentrate the production of the main components of the aircraft itself, as well as lawsuits between developers from different countries. For understanding, even the name Typhoon became the subject of fierce disputes, because the Germans saw in it an allusion to the British fighter of the Second World War. But after the proposal to name the aircraft Spitfire II, in general in honor of the aircraft symbol of the victory of Great Britain, the question was dropped.
As a result, the Eurofighter made its first flight only in 1994, and it received a real order only at the end of 1997. But even this order was never fully fulfilled. For example, Great Britain ordered 232 aircraft, but actually purchased 160, Italy 121 – 96 units. And this was in no way compensated by the easy over-fulfillment of plans by Germany – 180 ordered and 181 received, as well as by Spain – 87 – 93 received fighters.
Eurofighter did not become a bestseller on the foreign market, in Europe 15 aircraft were ordered only by Austria. At the same time, Eurofighter gained attention in the Middle East: Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar ordered a total of 136 aircraft.
Features and capabilities of the Eurofighter
A certain “train” of controversies, which dragged on the development, created around the Eurofighter, to some extent, a not entirely positive role. Although in fact the plane has quite good characteristics. Especially after the completion of MBDA’s missile addition program in 2014. After that, as it was stated by the manufacturers, that the aircraft finally reached its full capabilities in destroying air and ground targets.
At the same time, the flight characteristics of the aircraft are also quite high. With a maximum take-off weight of 23.5 tons, the weight of weapons on 13 suspension points is 9 tons. The climbing speed at the level of 315 m/s and the aerodynamic “duck” scheme make it quite maneuverable in close combat. More than qualitative speed indicators: the maximum speed is Mach 2.25, the possibility of supersonic flight without afterburning is Mach 1.5.
The relatively weak point of the plane is the Captor radar, which was created using technologies of the previous generation. It was only in 2014 that a radar with a synthesized aperture was created for the Eurofighter with characteristics that really allow it to be called modern. In particular, its ability to detect a low-visibility stealth fighter F-35 at a range of 60 km is declared, and the maximum range of detection of conventional targets is up to 280 km.
By the way, the plane also has a passive thermal sensor, which allows you to detect and shoot at air targets without turning on the radar. Also, the aircraft is fully integrated into the general information exchange system and can launch missiles at targets that it cannot even see. It is worth adding that special attention was paid to its visibility on radars during the creation of the aircraft, which of course does not make it a stealth fighter, but certainly not as noticeable as some other 4th generation aircraft.
At the same time, work on further modernization is underway in each developing country. In particular, work on the installation of conformal fuel tanks, an engine with a variable thrust vector and even finishing the airframe.
But each update of the aircraft, especially against the background of the slow pace of production, increases its price tag. In 2007, the German Luftwaffe estimated the total cost of the aircraft, spare parts and training at 120 million euros. And at the level of 2022, the price of one Eurofighter will be much higher, both due to inflation and due to constant updates of the machine and the addition of new systems to it. Moreover, due to the cost of upgrades, not all produced aircraft are upgraded to modern versions.
And without these updates, the combat capability of the aircraft is drastically reduced. In particular, Austria decided back in 2017 to abandon the Eurofighter by 2023, due to the high cost of operation and the extremely high price of modernization.
According to Austrian military estimates, the price of maintaining the combat capability of 15 Eurofighter aircraft for 30 years will cost 4.4-5.1 billion dollars, including repairs, upgrades and maintenance. By the way, the cost of the flight hour of this aircraft is the most speculative topic. While some sources claim an indicator of 8.2 thousand dollars in one hour, others indicate 18 thousand.
Characteristics of the Eurofighter
- Crew: 1 person (optionally 2)
- Wingspan: 10.95 m
- Maximum take-off weight: 23.5 t
- Engine: 2×9177 kgs
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.25
- Ceiling: 19.8 km
- Maximum flight range: 3790 km
- Suspension point: thirteen
- Maximum combat load: 9 t
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