Airbus has disclosed a plan for a Eurofighter ECR/SEAD variant to replace the Luftwaffe’s Tornado ECR aircraft.
Airbus Defence and Space has disclosed a plan for an Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR)/Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) variant of the Eurofighter to replace the Luftwaffe‘s Tornado ECR aircraft.
Germany in fact plans to replace its 85 Tornado fighter bomber aircraft, 40 of which are the ECR variant.
Speaking at the company’s Manching facility in southern Germany on 5 November, Kurt Rossner, head of Air Combat, noted that the ECR/SEAD configuration is a collaborative German industrial effort and forms part of the key technology roadmap for the aircraft. According to Jane’s, an ECR/SEAD Eurofighter offers the possibility of combining the escort and stand-in jammer platforms of any strike package, with an initial capability to be gained through podded systems before a more integrated solution is developed.
Airbus wants to put escort jammer pods on the underwing stations while moving the 1,000 litre tanks to another station that has to be modified to carry fuel tanks since it’s currently dry.
The aircraft is also shown carrying the SPEAR-EW weapon recently showcased by MBDA as a future SEAD weapons system, wingtip emitter locator stations, and both short- and long-range air-to-air missiles.
As noted by Rossner, the ECR/SEAD Eurofighter would “almost certainly” be a twin-seat aircraft with the rear cockpit devoted to operating the complex mission systems.
The ECR/SEAD configuration is part of a wider long-term capability development plan for the Typhoon combat aircraft that will span the coming decades.
Announced at the Paris Airshow in June, this project that has been agreed with the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) on behalf of the partner countries, is called the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) plan.
As reported last year, Boeing has already offered the EA-18G Growler to Germany to replace Luftwaffe’s Tornado ECR.
As Boeing director for global sales for strike, surveillance, and mobility, Bryan Crutchfield, then said only the Growler has the dedicated electronic warfare (EW) and SEAD roles of the Tornado ECR. While other aircraft (such as a “standard” Eufofighter Tranche 3) could be adapted to this role through the fitting of externals pods, according Crutchfield this would not be enough to put them on par with the Growler’s integrated and bespoke capabilities.
But a dedicated Eurofighter ECR/SEAD variant could be a serious contender for the EA-18G Growler.
Photo credit: Airbus