Airbus Defence and Space (DS) is looking to integrate three different anti-shipping missile types onto the Eurofighter Typhoon in an effort to equip the combat aircraft with a maritime attack capability, a senior company official disclosed on 9 June.
Speaking during the annual Trade Media Briefing at the company's facility in Seville, Spain, Peter Maute, Head of Marketing, Military Aircraft, said that the work is being conducted as part of a wider effort to increase the aircraft's sensor and kinetic reach.
"The Typhoon Maritime Capabilities Roadmap will see the integration of anti-shipping missiles. We are currently looking at the [Boeing AGM-84] Harpoon, [MBDA Italy] Marte, and [MBDA] Brimstone. We expect the home nations [of Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK] to contract soon".
Of the partner nations, it is the UK that is keenest to expand the Typhoon's anti-shipping capabilities, and to this end is already looking at integrating the MBDA Dual-Mode Brimstone onto the aircraft by 2018. At the ILA Berlin Airshow in May, Eurofighter showed video footage of Typhoons simultaneously launching up to six Brimstone missiles against fast in-shore attack craft (FIAC) during trials.
Among the three export nations of Austria, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, it is the two Middle Eastern nations that are driving the expansion of the Typhoon's maritime capabilities (in 2010 Saudi Arabia requested the sale of 400 Harpoon Block II missiles).
Maute said that, while development work to integrate these missiles is ongoing, full integration onto the Typhoon would first be dependent on a customer commitment. Besides those countries already signed up for the Typhoon, a number of potential export customers are also looking for a maritime attack capability in their new fighter platforms.
The effort to integrate a maritime strike capability onto the Typhoon is part of a wider upgrade package, which Eurofighter officials at ILA described as representing "a paradigm shift" in the platform's capabilities.
Along with the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and Storm Shadow/Taurus cruise missile, integration of the Harpoon, Marte, and Brimstone is envisaged as keeping the fighter at the forefront of military capability for the coming decades. The Brimstone in particular was described by officials at the event as being "a game changer" in terms of the Typhoon's capabilities.
The Typhoon joined the newly constituted Military Aircraft division of Airbus DS during the major restructuring work that was carried out at the beginning of the year. The expanded Airbus DS portfolio now comprises the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A400M, C212, C295, CN235, Typhoon, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
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