Airbus presses for German Tornado decision to meet electronic attack requirements

27 November 2019

A concept of the Eurofighter ECR platform. Airbus is pressing the German government to expedite its Tornado replacement requirement, for which it plans to offer the aircraft. Source: Airbus via IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Airbus is pressing the German government to expedite its Panavia Tornado replacement decision so that it can develop the electronic attack (EA) capabilities needed for both NATO and the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a senior company official told Jane's on 27 November.

Speaking at the Berlin Security Conference 2019, Airbus Marketing Manager Combat Air Systems, Dirk Zickora, said that a decision is needed on which platform the Luftwaffe will receive to replace its 90 Tornados so as to release the funds needed for Airbus to develop the Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) version of the Eurofighter. If selected, this Eurofighter ECR would fulfil the government's EA commitment to NATO in the mid-2020s and feed into the New Generation Fighter (NGF) element of FCAS that is set to become operational in the early-2040s.

"We need a decision on the Tornado replacement to trigger the release of funding [for the Eurofighter ECR. The effort to select the new platform is] on, or slightly behind, the timeline [to meet the NATO and FCAS commitments] already, and [it] cannot really afford any further delay,” Zickora said.

While Zickora warned that funding is needed to realise the Eurofighter ECR concept, he noted that some work is already underway through other parallel programmes. On the EA side, Hensoldt is developing the stand-off jammer element of the Luftwaffe's planned future capability, and a miniaturised version of this will form the basis of the system to be fitted to the escort jammer element for which Airbus is pitching the Eurofighter ECR. On the aircraft side, Eurofighter is developing the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard that will include the advanced cockpit to be fitted to the Eurofighter ECR.

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