In April the German government approved the buy of 30 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet multirole and 15 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to partially satisfy the Luftwaffe Tornado replacement requirement.
This future standard will be offered to the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) as the service looks to replace 90 Tornado Interdiction and Strike (IDS) and Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) aircraft with 85 new aircraft from 2030, said Wolfgang Gammel, the head of combat aircraft business development, at a virtual running of the company’s annual Trade Media Briefing (TMB).
According to Gammel, some or all of the upgrades being developed for the Long Term Evolution (LTE) package will be added to the Tranche 5 standard already featuring the E-Scan active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar, as well as defensive aids and human-machine interface (HMI) enhancements included in the latest Tranche 4 under contract for Germany (Project Quadriga) and Spain (Project Halcon).
The LTE plan was first unveiled at the Paris Airshow in June 2019 and aims to take the aircraft’s capabilities out to beyond the performance enhancement packages that are being rolled out across the partner countries of Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. An initial 19-month study contract for the aircraft and nine months for the Eurojet EJ200 powerplant were launched at that event.
The technology areas being explored for the LTE include mission system architecture, defensive aids, the HMI, operational flexibility, and engine performance.
Other planned enhancements will involve an adapted avionics structure, including the latest state-of-the-art hardware and software to keep Eurofighter at the leading edge of combat aircraft technology. In parallel, this development stream will be used in risk reduction for the Next Generation Weapon System, providing a bridge for Europe’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS), and placing Eurofighter as one of its main components.
“Eurofighter is about to enter its next era and will remain at the forefront of our customers’ fleets for decades to come,” explained Kurt Rossner, Airbus Head of Combat Aircraft Systems and Chairman of the Eurofighter GmbH Supervisory Board. Eurofighter is based on the collaboration of four European nations and capabilities of their aerospace/defence industries: Germany, Spain, the UK and Italy. Airbus, which has the largest stake in the Eurofighter industrial grouping, produces aircraft at its facilities in Germany and Spain.
Dirk Hoke, the CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said the Eurofighter’s latest Tranche 4 version – which is the configuration recently contracted by Germany – will have a service life well beyond 2060, and the aircraft’s technical capabilities will allow its full integration into the European Future Combat Air System.
A total of nine countries have ordered Eurofighters to date: Germany (currently the largest customer), the UK, Spain, Italy, Austria, Oman, Qatar Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. The aircraft has proven its capabilities during military operations in Libya, Iraq and Syria – demonstrating high reliability in challenging climates and conditions.
In April the German government approved the buy of 30 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet multirole and 15 EA-18G Growler electronic attack (EA) aircraft to partially satisfy the Luftwaffe Tornado replacement requirement as well as to fulfill its airborne nuclear strike and EA requirements. If Germany decides to buy 85 Tranche 5 Eurofighters, neither the American aircraft nor the Tranche 4 Eurofighters ordered under Project Quadriga will be bought.
Photo credit: Finn Aviation Photography