LONDON — The long-awaited Phase 1 Enhancements (P1E) capability package for the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft should enter service with customer nations by the end of the year, according to the Eurofighter consortium.
EADS defense division Cassidian announced the end of testing for the P1E program on Oct. 28, following an intensive set of flight trials using two of the consortium’s instrumented production aircraft: IPA4, based in the U.K. with BAE Systems and IPA7, operated by Cassidian in Germany.
The P1E program, which will be given to all the Typhoon operating nations, opens up the ground attack capability of the fighter, allowing pilots to perform functions such as dropping precision-guided weapons while at the same time being able to engage aerial threats — something that was not possible with the basic air-to-ground clearances available on the type before. The aircraft now is able to drop both the Raytheon Paveway IV and the enhanced GBU-16 precision-guided bomb.
The P1E program also delivers full integration of the Litening III targeting pod and full digital integration of the Diehl-produced IRIS-T short-range, air-to-air missile used by all the Typhoon operating nations except the U.K. That nation uses the MBDA Asraam, which has also been digitally integrated. Both weapons are now supported by the Typhoon’s HEA Helmet system for “high off-boresight targeting,” according to Cassidian. Other changes include an updated MIDS (multifunctional information distribution system) datalink, improved radios and direct voice input functions.
The enhancements cover the design, development, qualification and clearance of the first major upgrade after the main development contract, the companies say.
Consortium partners describe P1E work as a major milestone in the development of the Typhoon, saying the upgrade forms “the baseline for further enhancements such as AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar and Meteor missile.”
The P1E upgrade only is applicable to Tranche 2 aircraft, and all will undergo a software update. Cassidian says some components, such as the identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder, will have to be changed to allow the improved functions. P1E capabilities will, however, be standard in all the Tranche 3 aircraft, and the delivery of the first Tranche 3 jets is due to get underway by the end of this year.
The U.K. Royal Air Force will test the P1E upgrade during 2014 and plans to introduce it for operational use by the end of next year.