The Storm Shadow cruise missile will make its first flight on board a Eurofighter Typhoon during the Dubai air show, the Eurofighter Consortium tells Aviation Week ShowNews.
The weapon, a mock-up of which appears beneath the wing of the full-sized Typhoon model in the static display at the show, has long been part of the manufacturer’s plans for the platform. Its integration will be of particular interest at the show, given that current Typhoon customer Saudi Arabia and potential customer the United Arab Emirates both have the missile in their inventories.
“We’ve been working on Storm Shadow integration for the best part of a year, in terms of design concepts and avionics,” says Laurie Hilditch, Eurofighter’s head of future capabilities. Eurofighter has the aircraft “sitting technically ready to go, just waiting for the final pieces of legal paperwork.”
Italy-based development aircraft IPA2 is deploying to Decimomannu “and is due to fly the first Storm Shadow aerodynamic data-gathering missions any day,” Hilditch says. IPA7, in Germany, is ready to fly the Taurus missile, which is aerodynamically similar and will be used to derive associated data.
The planned configuration for a Storm Shadow-equipped Typhoon will be for two missiles to be carried, on the center-wing pylon currently used for fuel tanks. In that configuration, the aircraft would fly a single tank beneath the fuselage.
Also appearing on the Typhoon mockup at the show are conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) on the upper fuselage. Though these have been planned for over a decade, the option is only now nearing reality, but will only be available on Tranche 3B aircraft.
“When the aircraft was originally designed and built, CFTs were not part of the requirement,” Hilditch explains. “You need strengthened mounting points for CFTs, so we’ve redesigned frames in the centre fuselage, up on the shoulder area, and those provisions are built in to the Tranche 3B aeroplane.”
As no Tranche 3B aircraft has yet flown—BS116, the first Tranche 3A airframe, has completed ground tests and is due to make its first flight from BAE Systems’ Warton facility, possibly on December 13—Typhoon CFTs are still some way off. But, Hilditch says, “the detailed design [of the tanks] is pretty mature, so certainly within the next couple of years we’re going to be seeing CFTs around.”