Saturday July 19, 2003: The first Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft are set to begin operational life after documentation was finalised by the four European nations co-operating on the awesome single-seat, twin-engine fighter project - Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
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Designed to remain central to NATO and European airpower well in to the 21st Century, the Eurofighter Typhoon is versatile and highly agile "swing-role" fighter that combines awesome firepower and speed with stealth characteristics and advanced weaponry.
Although stealth capabilities are not the primary objective of the Eurofighter Typhoon (aircraft designed solely for stealth purposes must make big concessions in therms of aerodynamic performance and weapons capacity), it balances aerodynamic requirements with the need to minimise reflected radar energy to produce a small "signature". Several features including smokeless engines, small airframe, passive detection systems and the ability to "Supercruise" - reach supersonic speeds without the use of afterburners - contribute to this small signature.
The versatility of the Eurofighter is also evident in its array of weaponry - internally mounted 27mm Mauser canon , Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air missiles (BVRAAM) and Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (SRAAM) carried externally and a full range of Air-to-Surface weaponry including laser guided bombs, anti armour weapons and conventionally armed missiles.
The joint development by Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK has seen production carried out on a workshare basis, according to the number of aircraft each country has ordered, and is carried out by EADS, Alenia Aerospazio and BAE SYSTEMS.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is in full production and now the Type Acceptance has been finalised, the first of the 620 Eurofighter Typhoons planned for the four Partner Nations will be delivered in 2003.
For further reading and a multimedia tour of the aircraft's capabilities see www.eurofighter.com.View gallery - 5 images