The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has received back into service the first of its Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to be provisioned for the Project Centurion weapons fit, BAE Systems told reporters on 5 July.
Speaking at the company’s Warton facility in northern England, a senior programme official said that the first Typhoons that have been modified to carry the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile have been returned to their operational units, ahead of the capability being officially cleared for use by 2019.
“There are 26 aircraft now at the first phase of the Project Centurion standard, and the pilots will start training in a few weeks’ time,” Eurofighter Delivery Director Andy Flynn said, adding, “We now have to go through the approval process, which should be complete by the end of the year.”
The Project Centurion configuration is intended to combine the already-delivered Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb, and the Storm Shadow, Meteor, and Brimstone on the Typhoon FGR4 in time for the retirement from RAF service of the Panavia Tornado GR4 in early 2019. The first phase aircraft that are being delivered have been fitted with the Typhoon Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) upgrade that comprises the Meteor and the Storm Shadow. Phase 2 of Project Centurion covers the Typhoon Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) upgrade of the Brimstone, and with trials now continuing this final Project Centurion configuration should also be ready for fielding by the end of 2018 .
The RAF fields 51 Tranche 1, 67 Tranche 2 and about 10 of its planned 40 Tranche 3 Typhoons. The 24 Tranche 1 Typhoons that are to be retained will be used in an air defence role only and will not receive the Project Centurion upgrade.
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