British Aerospace (BAE) and Eurofighter have announced that the next phase of upgrades and enhancements to the RAF’s fleet of Typhoons has entered the operational evaluation stage. The improvements are aimed at allowing the Typhoon fleet to adopt not only the full range of strike and reconnaissance capabilities the Tornado GR.4 is capable of but also improve upon them. The enhancements will also see the initial integration of the Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air to Air missile (BVRAAM) and the Storm Shadow stand-off Air to Surface weapon.
Operating under the guise of Project Centurion, the MoD and the RAF are confident that the Typhoon will be ready to fully replace the venerable Tornado GR.4 by 2018. The Eurofighter consortium issued a press release earlier this week outlining the next phase of the project.
Phase 1 Enhancements Further Work (P1Eb FW) is an evolution of the current Tranche 2 Typhoon aircraft in service with the UK. The P1Eb standard Typhoons entered service last year.
P1Eb FW is the first part of the UK’s Project CENTURION, the package of enhancements which aims to deliver a seamless transition of capability from Tornado to Typhoon by the end of 2018.
The upgrades will bring numerous new capabilities, including additional Human-Machine Interface technologies and additions to the aircraft’s Air to Surface targeting capability.
P1Eb FW has successfully undergone trial installation and Operational Evaluation with 41 Squadron, the Royal Air Force’s Test and Evaluation Squadron at RAF Coningsby, is now underway.
The Panavia Tornado has performed the all-weather day/night interdiction role for the RAF admirably since its introduction in its original GR.1 form in the early 1980s. Like the Eurofighter Typhoon, the aircraft was built by a multi-national consortium established in the 1970s (its origins can be traced back to the aborted Anglo-French Variable Geometry aircraft project in the early 1960s). The Typhoon replaced the Air Defence Variant (ADV) of the Tornado in RAF service in 2011 and will fly alongside the RAF’s Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning IIs once the Tornado GR.4 is withdrawn.
Official photograph of RAF and JASDF personnel following arrival of No.II(AC) Squadron to Japan (JASDF/Tokyo Embassy via Twitter)
Four Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon FGR.2s of No.II (AC) Squadron have arrived in Japan to participate in a military exercise with their Japanese hosts as part of an ongoing effort to strengthen security ties between the two countries. The four Typhoons arrived at Misawa Air Base in Northern Japan on Saturday having deployed from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. The four Typhoons are being supported by a Voyager refuelling aircraft and up to 200 personnel.
The exercise, Guardian North 16, will see the RAF fighters pitted against the Japan Air Self Defence Force’s (JASDF) premier fighters namely the F-15 Eagle and the Japanese manufactured Mitsubishi F-2 (a development of the American F-16 Fighting Falcon). Guardian North 16 will not be the end of the RAF deployment in Asia however as the Typhoons will then move on to South Korea for yet more exercises this time with the Republic of Korea Air Force.
Wing Commander Roger Elliott of No.II (AC) Squadron told reporters;
This is the most ambitious deployment that the Typhoon Force has ever done. I think it’s probably the most ambitious deployment that the Air Force has done to the Far East…We will learn from each other, and ultimately we will make friendships that will tie us together more closely in the future.
The Japanese Defense Ministry told CNN;
Conducting this exercise in Japan will help in strengthening the UK’s commitment in the Asia Pacific region and increasing other European countries’ interest in the security situation in Japan and the Asia Pacific region.
The ministry denied that the deployment was in response to any specific threat in the region. This comes in the wake of fresh protests against North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and China’s ongoing claim to the Senkaku islands which Japan controls. In August of this year nearly 230 Chinese fishing boats supported by armed Chinese Coast Guard ships approached the disputed islands in what Japan considered an act of intimidation.
The RAF Typhoons are scheduled to leave Japan for South Korea on November 6th.
At a time when relations between London and Moscow are at their frostiest since 1989 the RAF is once again hunting Tu-95 “Bear” strategic bombers. The MoD stated that yesterday Typhoon FGR.4 fighters were launched from both RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby to intercept and track the roaming Tu-95 which they did for over half an hour before it left the RAF’s area of responsibility.
While the aircraft never entered UK airspace the Tu-95 was most likely attempting to ascertain how soon it would be detected and intercepted by British air defences. This is an old story, one that has been played out for years between British and Russian/Soviet pilots.
Some in the press believe the Russian mission was linked to Britain’s role in opposing Russian intervention in the Ukraine and is Putin’s way of telling London he will not be intimidated. Nevertheless the timing of the flight couldn’t have been worse for the diplomatic situation as it coincided with a press release regarding the details of Alexander Litvenenko’s post mortem, a former Russian FSB secret service member believed to be working for MI6 who was poisoned by radioactive materials on British soil. It has long been suspected that Moscow was behind the poisoning.