Origins

The origins of the Eurofighter date back to 1979, when the Royal Air Force split Air Staff Target (AST) 403 in two. Previously, 403 had called for a STOVL aircraft to replace the Harrier and Jaguar. AST 409 was rewritten for a straight Harrier replacement, which was filled by the Harrier II. The remaining half of 403 was re-drafted to describe an agile fighter-bomber with more emphasis on the air combat role. This brought the RAF's requirement closer to the concurrent French ACT-88 and German TKF-90 programmes. BAe Warton produced the P110 design to meet AST 403. This had twin fins and side-mounted engine intakes. There was some talk of collaborating on a new Tactical Combat Aircraft, but these did not result in anything concrete.

ACA (BAe photo) Concerned at the lack of progress, UK industry resorted to a private venture. The P.110 design was developed as the Agile Combat Aircraft (left), with input from MBB and Aeritalia (although operating outside Panavia), and aircraft equipment companies. ACA differed from the P110 in having longer-coupled canard foreplanes and an under-fuselage air intake.

In May 1983 the British Government belatedly put some money into ACA, turning it into the Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP). In the process the design lost its twin vertical fins. EAP had been intended as a two-aircraft programme, but the German government did not fund its share of the second aircraft. In consequence, EAP became an all-Warton-built areoplane, with the exception of the left wing which was built by Aeritalia. To save money, EAP used the all-metal Tornado rear fuselage and fin, but a lot of the airframe was made of composite materials and titanium.

The French, meanwhile, had started development of the Rafale, and were stalling a pan-European decision by insisting upon a design which bore a very close resemblance to the Dassault product, with French firms having design and construction leadership.

On August 15th 1985 the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain cut France adrift from the European Fighter Aircraft (EFA) programme and made rapid progress towards completing project definition. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH was formed in Munich in June 1986 to manage EFA design and construction, followed by Eurojet Turbo GmbH which would manufacture the EJ200 powerplant.

EAP (BAe photo) EAP ZF534 (left) was airborne on August 8th 1986 at Warton, and appeared in the following month's Farnborough Air Show alongside the French Rafale. Even with the Tornado's RB.199 engines, EAP had sparkling performance. EAP incorporated a lot of development work on the digital flight control system which would eventually appear in Eurofighter. It flew 259 times, generating 195hr 21 min. Its last flight was on May 1st 1991. EAP could have formed the basis of an advanced all-British multi-role fighter for the RAF, but British Government policy required a collaborative program, which greatly increased the cost and timescale.

In December 1987 the definitive European Staff Requirement was issued by the four air forces (the RAF's requirement was in SR(A) 414). The main development contracts for the airframe and engine were signed on 23rd November 1988 between the NATO management agency NEFMA and Eurofighter GmbH and Eurojet GmbH.

EFA had the misfortune of starting full scale development as the Cold War was coming to an end and the two Germanies were re-united. The German government, faced with serious economic problems in the former East Germany, insisted on examining cheaper alternatives to EFA - even including the MiG-29.

During 1991/92 it looked as though the Germans would pull out of the production phase of the EFA programme. German Defence Minister Rühe was strongly opposed to the aircraft (or at least its cost), and seven alternative configurations were offered to Germany in late 1992. Only two of these were cheaper than EFA, and they were both inferior to developments of the MiG-29 and Su-27. It was not until December 1992 that EFA was relaunched as the "Eurofighter 2000". The Germans had achieved an apparent 30% cost reduction by delaying their aircraft until 2002, and eliminating some items of equipment. A new ESR was issued on January 21st 1993 to define the revised aircraft.

Initially the UK (British Aerospace) and Germany (DASA) each had 33% of the programme, Italy (Alenia) 21% and Spain (CASA) 13%. In January 1996 these shares were altered to 36%, 30%, 20% and 14% respectively, to reflect changes in the number of aircraft required by each country.

At the opening of the 1996 Farnborough Air Show the British government announced that it had approved Eurofighter production. The Eurofighter programme was expected to cost the UK £15.4 billion (including R&D), resulting in a unit cost of around £66 million, or £37 million excluding R&D costs. At the end of June 1999 the unit cost including R&D had risen to £69.4 million.

Spain committed itself to production on October 21st 1996. In January 1997 Germany committed itself to allocate funds for production by the end of March. The programme cost amounted to DM29.8 billion, including R&D, which equates to a unit cost of about £64 million (about £49 million excluding R&D).

On July 11th 1997 the German government announced an investment of DM1.7bn (about £600m) to allow the project to continue. On October 8th 1997 it announced an order for 180 Eurofighters, for delivery from 2002.

In November 1997 Norway was in Eurofighter procurement discussions with the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA). Norway's requirement was for 30-40 aircraft to replace its F-5 fleet. The UAE and Australia were also considering the aircraft.

On December 22nd 1997 the four partner governments signed a legally binding agreement worth about £32 billion to begin Eurofighter production.

The aircraft was officially named Typhoon on September 2nd 1998, but apparently only for the export market.

Contracts for the first batch of 148 Typhoons and 363 engines, worth nearly DM 14bn (£5bn) were signed in Munich on September 21st 1998.

On February 14th 1999 the Greek government gave approval for negotiations to begin for the purchase of between 60 and 80 Typhoons, to enter Hellenic Air Force service after 2005.

In February 1999 Eurofighter GmbH announced that it had received a formal Request for Proposal from Norway, via NETMA, to bid in the RNAF's New Fighter Aircraft competition. The response was due by May 31st 1999. The initial Norwegian requirement was for 20 aircraft with options on a further 10.

On April 30th 1999 the Greek government confirmed its requirement for 60 to 90 Typhoons, and also announced that it had applied to join NETMA.

It was announced on November 8th 1999 that the four Eurofighter partner companies had set up a dedicated export sales organisation called Eurofighter International (EFI) to provide a single contractural interface for all export customers.

At Asian Aerospace 2000, although there was no flying Eurofighter, delegations from Singapore, Norway, South Korea, Australia and Saudi Arabia expressed an interest in the aircraft. Singapore was in the market for forty advanced fighters to replace F-5s and A-4s in the 2006 thru 2012 timeframe, and South Korea was looking for 60 aircraft from 2004.

On March 8th 2000 the Greek Government announced a £3.8 billion order for 60 Typhoons, with options on 30 more.

On May 15th 2000 Norway announced that it had decided, for financial reasons, not to go ahead with the competition to buy either Typhoons or F-16s to fill a requirement for 20 new fighters.

On May 16th 2000 the Czech Government announced that it would be requesting tenders later in the year for the supply of 36 fighter aircraft. The Eurofighter consortium, represented by DASA, was a potential bidder for this requirement.

Also on May 16th the UK Government announced that it had decided to award the Advanced Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (ABVRAAM) contract for the Eurofighter Typhoon to the Matra-BAE Dynamics Meteor. The contract was believed to be for about £900 million.

On October 16th 2000 it was reported in Jane's Defence Weekly that the Netherlands had been invited to join the Eurofighter consortium. The Dutch were looking at around 100-120 aircraft to replace the F-16, starting in 2010.

Brig. Gen. Shin Bo Hyun, commander of the Republic of Korea Air Force's F-X Test and Evaluation Group became the first non-European to fly the Typhoon when he took a demonstration flight in DA6 at Getafe, Spain in early December 2000.

On Tuesday February 14th 2001 the Commander in Chief of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Lt. Gen. Dick Berlijn, joined the 197th test flight of Eurofighter Typhoon DA6 in Spain. The flight lasted 1h 10 min during which Gen. Berlijn was accompanied by Eduardo Cuadrado, EADS CASA test pilot and head of the Getafe Flight Unit. At the time the RNLAF was evaluating Eurofighter as a candidate for the F-16 replacement programme.

Despite initialling a €5 billion contract for 60 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft on February 22nd 2001, the Greek government announced on March 29th that it was postponing the purchase of the aircraft until after 2004 for financial reasons.

On May 25th 2001 the Greek goverment announced a further postponement, until 2008, but confirmed that it still intends to purchase 60 aircraft, with a further 30 on option.

It was announced on October 31st 2001 that the Norwegian Ministry of Defence had begun negotiations with the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) regarding participation in the further development of the Typhoon, with a view to replacing the country's fleet of F-16s after 2010.

On November 9th 2001 Dutch industry was offered a potential €7 billion industrial partnership with the Eurofighter partner companies in support of the Eurofighter bid in the RNLAF's F-16 replacement programme.

On July 2nd 2002 the Austrian government announced that it had selected the Typhoon to replace the SAAB Draken currently operated by the Austrian Air Force. Twenty-four Typhoons (later reduced to 18) are to be procured at a cost of €1.791 billion (£1.2 billion), with the first to be delivered during 2005.

On July 23rd 2002 at the Farnborough International show, an unprecedented four Eurofighters (DA1, DA2, DA4 and IPA1) appeared in the air at the same time. This was to mark the start of full production of the aircraft for the RAF, and also the RAF’s decision to make Typhoon its official name.

During the ceremonies, UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said, "Typhoon will be the most sophisticated aircraft the RAF has ever flown. It will provide a step change in the RAF’s ability in both air superiority and air defence. It will be the backbone of the fast jet combat fleet for many years to come and will help us meet tomorrow’s uncertain challenges."

Although Hoon re-affirmed that the RAF would receive all 232 Typhoons it requires, rumours were circulating that the RAF's Tranche 3 batch of 80 aircraft could be cancelled, owing to an estimated £5 billion defence procurement overspend in the period 2009-2014. However industry is convinced that Tranche 3 needs to go ahead if the Typhoon is to be able to compete with the F-35 JSF in export markets.

On January 28th 2003 the Norwegian MoD and Eurofighter GmbH signed an industrial participation agreement which involvedNorwegian industry in the further development of the Eurofighter Typhoon. Norway was the first country to formally participate in the Eurofighter industrial partnership for enhanced versions of the aircraft.

Norway also negotiated a Letter of Understanding (LoU) with the Eurofighter Partner Nation Governments represented by the NATO Eurofighter Tornado Management Agency (NETMA). This LoU enabled the Royal Norwegian Air Force to receive relevant operational information on the Typhoon. These events implied that the Typhoon was still in the running to replace RNorAF F-16s after 2010.

Austria became the fifth confirmed customer for the Typhoon, when the procurement contract for eighteen aircraft became effective on August 22nd 2003.

On October 10th 2003 the Republic of Singapore announced that it had down-selected Typhoon (together with the F-15T and Rafale) for the final stage of the country's Next Fighter Replacement (NFR) competition. The NFR requirement is for about 20 aircraft to replace the RSAF's existing A-4 and F-5 aircraft.

On December 14th 2004 NETMA (NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency) and Eurofighter Jagdflugzeuge GmbH signed the contract covering the second tranche of Eurofighter aircraft.

In April 2005 the Singapore Ministry of Defence announced that the Typhoon had been eliminated from the Next Fighter Replacement competition, apparently on the grounds that the committed schedule for the delivery of the Typhoon and its systems "did not meet the requirements of the RSAF". The lack of air-to-ground capability in Tranche 1 aircraft is thought to have been one of the un-met requirements.

On September 30th 2005 the Deputy Defence Ministers of Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom met the Minister of Defence of Turkey in Ankara. At this meeting the Turks were offered full participation in the programme if they order the Typhoon to replace obsolete F-4s and F-5s operated by the Turkish Air Force. On October 5th 2005 a Eurofighter development aircraft made its show debut at IDEF Ankara.

Three production Typhoons from Britain, Germany and Italy, and IPA3 from Spain, took to the air over Vienna on October 26th 2005 to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Austrian armed forces.

In December 2005 the British and Saudi Arabian governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding, the upshot of which is that Typhoon aircraft will replace Tornado ADVs and other aircraft currently in service with the RSAF. This is though to involve 72 aircraft initially (with 24 coming from RAF Trache 2 deliveries), with perhaps as many as 200 eventually.

In March 2006 Norway's commitment to buy JSF was looking less certain, owing to the level of industrial participation proposed by Lockheed Martin. As this could lead Norway towards buying Typhoons instead, in early April EADS Military Air Systems presented Norway with an offer of increased industrial participation in the Typhoon programme.

During May 2006, according to "Flight International", the Eurofighter consortium was looking at options to develop a Japanese-specific variant of the Typhoon as one possible approach to contesting Tokyo's expected medium-term competition to replace its Mitsubishi/McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ fighters.

On August 28th 2007 the Indian government invited bids from six defence manufacturers, including Eurofighter, for 126 fighter jets worth approximately $10.2 billion.

On September 17th 2007 the Saudi Arabian government announced that it had reached agreement with the British government to order 72 Typhoon aircraft worth about £4.4bn, or about £61m each. Training, support and weapons are expected to increase this substantially.

The agreement will be supported by substantial logistical and training packages, including the opportunity for RAF and Royal Saudi Air Force aircrews and ground technicians to train alongside each other in the UK. It is believed the first 24 Typhoons will be built in the UK at Warton, while the remaining 48 will be assembled in Saudi Arabia.

At the 2008 Farnborough Air Show, it was reported that Oman was showing interest in a possible Typhoon purchase to replace the RAFO Jaguar fleet.

On November 6th 2008 two two-seat Eurofighters (98+03/IPA3 and 30+42/GT015) arrived at Emmen for a 3-week evaluation as part of the Swiss Air Force's Partial Tiger Replacement flight-test programme.

Eleven flights were conducted by the Swiss Air Force to assess operational capabilities, including the new Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA), while 13 flights were done by Armasuisse to evaluate technical issues. Two flights were done for noise measurements. By end end of the evaluation on December 2nd there had been 31 flights for 45 flying hours.

On December 20th 2012 an order for twelve Typhoons from the Sultanate of Oman was announced, with deliveries to begin in 2017.

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