The multinational Eurofighter project is key to securing Europe's defence industrial sovereignty as efforts shift to developing the next-generation of combat aircraft, the consortium's CEO said on 28 November.
Speaking at the Berlin Security Conference, Eurofighter CEO Volker Paltzo said that the project has been "the glue" for Europe's defence industry over the previous decades, and that it will continue to be the foundation for the continent's future defence industrial collaboration as work begins to develop the Next-Generation Fighter (NGF) as part of the wider Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
"The Eurofighter is the current and future backbone of European defence," he said. "It has acted as a catalyst for industrial co-operation, and Europe needs more projects like this [that afford it] a sovereign defence capability."
The Eurofighter Typhoon is Europe's largest defence project, with 623 aircraft ordered across nine nations. Of these, 549 have been delivered and more than 500,000 hours flown. There are further potential orders for some of the core nations of Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom that will take production well into the 2030s, and the aircraft itself will remain in service through to the 2060s. "As we continue to develop new technologies and capabilities, the Eurofighter will serve as a natural bridge into the FCAS project," Paltzo said. "For the long-term evolution of the Eurofighter we have a clear capability roadmap to maintain the aircraft's relevance for years to come."
This roadmap has already begun, Paltzo said, noting the work in the UK to cross-deck the air-to-ground capabilities of the Panavia Tornado under the Royal Air Force's Project Centurion. These capability enhancements could serve also as a technological pathway to the continent's future fighter efforts, Paltzo noted, with upgrades being considered including satellite communications, enhanced datalinks, low-observable (LO) communications compatibility, large area display, helmet-mounted displays, as well as improvements to the Eurojet EJ200 powerplant for greater thrust, efficiency, and weapons carriage.
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